Brandi's Reviews > How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg
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's review
Jul 19, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: boy, nonfiction, ya

“WARNING: If you don’t have the guts for gore, do not read this book!” This bright yellow warning below a skull and cross bones will not only give students a fair warning, but will have some of the reluctant readers super excited about finding out what is inside these pages. The gore, rooted in medicine and science, does not get so intense as to frighten middle school students, but should probably not be in elementary classrooms. Georgia Bragg’s use of humor lightens up the mood of this text considerably. The quirky and appropriate illustrations by Kevin O’Malley also serve this purpose.
Each of the 19 short entries includes a very brief biography explaining why the person is important, a few factoids from their life, and a very detailed description of the circumstances of their death. In the case of Albert Einstein, a description of the adventures of his corpse is also included. At the very end of each entry is a section with timelines, graphs and charts that go into the history and science of the preceding chapter, often connecting it to today’s world. At the very end of the book is a fascinating timeline that shows numerous connections between the figures mentioned. Some met each other, some were related, some researched earlier ones, and some married the descendants of others.
The entries are organized in chronological order, starting with King Tut and ending with Albert Einstein. Most of the figures should be familiar to them, though if they aren’t there is enough of a biography that students will still understand why they are important, and it may even encourage further research. Many students may not know who Marie Antoinette is, but after reading about the guillotine, her itchy and unsanitary hairdo, and her famous last words, they may want to know even more. This title could also be used to help reluctant researchers start a paper on any one of these figures. By no means could this be their only or main resource, but it may help spark an interest in one of these people.
Teachers will definitely want to try this one with middle school boys. This title has potential to lend itself to social studies, science, and history. The engaging cover and the warning of too much guts and gore will have certain readers chomping at the bit.

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