The Blurb On The Back:
Did Vikings have horns on their helmets?
Discover history for yourself with this fun, quirky series that tackles the questions other books are afraid to ask!
– Were the Vikings the VAINEST people in Europe?
– Did the Vikings really start fires with wee?
– And what on earth was toga honk?
A QUESTION OF HISTORY: VIKINGS answers all these questions and much more.
Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
Tim Cooke is an experienced children’s author with a particular interest in history. This terrifically fun introduction to Viking history (one in a series) aimed at readers aged 9+ has cheerful illustrations by Matt Lilly and gives you a great sense of what Viking society was like and who they were as people. I learned a number of things that I hadn’t known before and I thoroughly enjoyed the humour – perfect for getting youngsters into history.
Cooke uses this book to tackle a lot of the myths about Vikings – from the fact that they were ultra violent thugs to whether they wore horns in their helmets. Although some famous Viking rulers are name checked, it’s much less about individuals and more about what their society was like and how it was viewed by other societies at the time (including those who were on the receiving end of Viking raids) so you get a great overview of the people. It also doesn’t make a massive big deal about specific dates (which can put off some young readers), although there is a brief chronology at the back if they want to know some key events.
I actually learned a number of things from this book that I hadn’t known before, including that the Vikings had settled in Normandy and how they used tree bark fungus soaked in wee to start fires. Matt Lilly’s illustrations work really well with the text – building on the humour and adding some silliness at times in a way that made me smile. Cooke covers how Vikings governed themselves, where in the world they managed to get to, how they got married, runes, games and trade so he does give you a great overview of how it all worked and does so in a way that seems very relatable. He also managed to maintain a light hearted tone, despite the amount of information that he’s conveying, which I think is a great way of engaging with younger readers and there’s a suggestion at the end of websites and other books for readers to check out if they have found it interesting.
All in all, I think it’s a really great way of getting young readers interested in history but it’s also something that will interest young readers who have already shown an interest in the period.