Through Time: London

Platt, R.  (2009)  Through Time: London.  New York, NY: Kingfisher




Today, London is a bustling modern city, preparing to host the 2012 Olympic Games.  But thousands of years ago it was home to a Stone Age hunters.   Through Time: London attempts to show readers how London changed from a Neolithic camp to the city it is today.

While the illustrations remained intriguing throughout the book, the text was sometimes dry and there just didn’t seem to be quite the right balance between delving into a enough detail and looking at the broader picture.  Eighteen specific years in all were covered (such as AD 225 or AD 1783), each getting a two page spread that showed what the architecture of the city and describing what momentous event happened that year; but while the snapshots of the city at that time are likely to capture younger tweens interest, there’s little to help them make the connection between one historical event to another.  The creators of this series seem to think that simply choosing a specific location and showing different periods of time makes a seamless enough timeline, but I felt it could have used some transitions.  It felt like storylines were introduced and then not finished or explained.

I did like how the insert map of the Thames showed how large the city was at each period in time, and I do think this book will spark some interest in history in general and London in particular among younger tweens

Best for ages 7-11


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109 Forgotten American Heroes

cover image for 109 Forgetten American HeroesYing, C. & McMullen, B. (2009) 109 Forgotten American Heroes. New York, NY: DK Publishing




So, you know who invented the light bulb, you can name the first president of the United States, and of course you’ve heard of Rosa Parks.  But do you know who invented masking tape?  Have you ever heard of the Philadelphia Tea Party?  Or Claudette Colvin?

In this highly imaginative and entertaining book, Ying and McMullen list 109 “heroes” (and 9 villains) who helped make the world we live in what it is today.  It gets off to a slow start, but that doesn’t matter much as it’s an easy book to read out of order, and by the time the pages reach the 1900’s, our authors have hit their groove and each page is filled with wacky and interesting information – and has a colorful and dynamic layout to match.

This is one of those books to keep around to encourage interest in history and technology rather than to necessarily use as a reference book (although, it does have the requisite index).  Tweens especially will love both the engaging graphics and the weird but true facts they present.


Best for ages 9-15