CHILDREN'S BOOKS; BOOK REVIEWS Horrible Histories Handbooks: Knights by Terry Deary, Scolastic, pounds 5.99. Castle by Kyle Olmon, pounds 19.99.
Most printary school children are familiar with Terry Deary's Horrible Histories series. They bring the past to life using colourful cartoons and lively text.
The Tudors, Vikings, Romans and even the events of the Second World War are among the myriad historical episodes that have sparked his imagination over the past few years.
His style is unique: the books are chocablock with historical facts and anecdotes and pitched in such a way that all children love to get to the gory bits. You know where you are with a book from this series.
If you need any more persuading on that last statement then you need look no further than the opening paragraph from Knights, his latest: "A knight's job is to kill somebody. To batter, slash, stab, crush, slice or mangle them to a mush."
He tells us how knights learned their chivalry, the rules of engagement in battle and in jousting, how boys learned to become knights and how some of the most famous knights probably never existed (Lancelot et al).
This is a thoroughly brilliant addition to the Horrible Histories series and will be devoured by gory girls and boys alike. The illustrations by Martin Brown are spot on, too.
A good accompaniment to the book would be the piece of art that is Castle. Paper engineering at its most creative, Olmon (and illustrator Tracy Sabin) have put together an intricate pop-up book for older readers about medieval castle life. If you don't study the beautiful artwork, readers will enjoy the text about day-to-day life.