History has a hard time being hip – especially in the eyes of young readers. While adults know that past events are relevant to the present, kids are busy trying to figure out the here and now, often pushing history to the back seat. “Take Me Back” (like “Pick Me Up” and “Do Not Open” before it) gives history the full on hipness treatment – a modern and informal voice, plenty of visuals, and an offbeat layout. The result is an appealing overview of a wide range of historical events.
The course is set in the table of contents. 304 pages. Six chapters. The entirety of human history. Ambitious to say the least. From the beginning of human civilization, through the Enlightenment, and up to globalization, “Take Me Back” hits on just about every important event in between. There’s always room to second guess some of the topics chosen, but that seems to be a pretty fruitless endeavor to me. Let’s just say that the important stuff is there, and much more.
The aforementioned hip approach that DK took with this title has pros and cons. While it creates an inviting atmosphere for reluctant readers, the highly visual style and short bursts of text don’t allow for some of the amazing stories that give history its richness. Helping to make up for this lack of storytelling, graphic novel-ish passages are sprinkled into the mix. Every so often a comic appears to explain events like the Holocaust, the Black Death, and the rise of Russia – all rendered in a different style.
While it can be hard to sell some young readers on history, “Take Me Back” helps the cause. A nice addition.
Check out the Nonfiction Monday roundup at Picture Book of the Day.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.