How'd They Do That? Book Reviews

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School Library Journal, May 2010

On The Persian Empire, Pre-Columbian America, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece

These titles are meant to introduce readers to aspects of life in ancient times. Each one begins with a fictionalized story such as a young pre-Columbian boy who goes into the woods to hunt as part of a coming-of-age ritual. The stories are followed by information on such aspects as religion, family life, eating, the role of women, etc. The chapters are short, and each page contains one or two illustrations or photographs of artifacts, architecture, or paintings to enhance the discussion. Additionally, FYInfo pages dispersed throughout go into depth about specific events or topics. These volumes all have an informal style and constantly compare life in ancient times to today’s world. These titles have a great concept and merits.

Booklist, April 2010

On Ancient Egypt

A lengthy narrative introduction puts readers into the sandals of an Egyptian youngster at harvest time, toiling in the fields alongside siblings doing work that modern farmers could complete with the push of a button. It's a striking opening, countering the breathlessly paced, straightforward fact telling offered throughout the rest of the book. This title in the How'd They Do That? Series (which ranges from Rome to the Aztec Empire) covers everyday minutiae on every level of Egyptian society, from slaves to pharaohs. All the important touchstones are here—hieroglyphs, mummification, the Rosetta Stone—and full-color photos on nearly every page depict artifacts and ruins. At the end of each chapter, an "FYI Info" page hones in on a specific aspect of Egyptian life. For instance, in the chapter on dress, titled "Looking Good," readers learn about the aesthetic, religious, and health reasons members of society (even men!) wore eye makeup. The book concludes with a DIY reed-boat craft, time line, a further-reading section, and a glossary.