Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Oh Yikes!: History's Grossest Moments

Oh Yikes!: History's Grossest Moments

Spring 2007 Non-Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Joy Masoff
ISBN: 0-7611-3684-3
Hardcover Price: $14.95
Fun, hilarious and...gulp, dare we say it? Educational?

Never mind the cover photo of a screaming cross-eyed boy with a rat on his head or the other kid with horribly rotten teeth. Kids love that stuff, along with poop, snot and all other sorts of gross stuff. And from the title and cover, you'd almost think that's what this book is all about.

But it's not. No, instead, that whacky author Joy Masoff (who's previous such book was an bestselling "Oh, Yuck!"); has pulled together moments in history that,for a variety of reasons, sometimes for disgusting reasons but not always, prove fascinating to kids-and, yes, even entertaining to adults.

Masoff says in her forward that her goal was to make history interesting to youngsters. And she does, relating with lively prose and plenty of funny and odd-ball illustrations and photos of such historical tales as how Attila the Hun cooked his steaks, and how the killer Cortez conquered Mexico in record time, and why Napoleon kept his hand inside his coat.

And those are some of the nicer tidbits of history in this very readable book. Other descriptions range from vile to zany to just plain weird–from the historic origins of Dracula to an entire chapter on executions to the worst of deadly plagues and other diseases. Hey, most of this is real history-and not the sort that makes it into your standard school textbook. And some of it is pseudo–historic, such as the stories of the Abominable Snowman and the Loch Ness Monster. Not that you won't find facts and mini-stories about “heinous hair,” gas-producing cowboy chow and life before toilet paper, but most of this alphabetically oriented book is simply the underbelly of history and not potty talk from the past.

Don Oldenburg   ©2007 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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