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4.5 out of 5 stars33
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VINE VOICEon 20 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is part of the series of books by Tony Robinson, on Weird World of Wonders. Previous books in the series include Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders: Romans,Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders: British and Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders: Greeks. My youngest son, initially influenced by his love of Blackadder - The Complete Collection [DVD], wanted these from the start. As he has watched the entire fourth series, set in World War II, he was excited to have a chance to read this.

Of course, the book isn't a comedy. There are cartoons, and the tone is light, but the subject matter clearly comes across as serious. The book makes the hardships suffered during that time quite clear. It was the range of the book which surprised me. It covered the reasons for war, the allies, the Blitz, Battle of Britain, treatment of Jews and the Holocaust, key characters (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Churchill), fighting in the desert and mountains, the Japanese involvement, use of penicillin, Dunkirk, Hiroshima, and the end of the war. Whilst it doesn't go into any topics in any depth - this isn't that kind of book, it does give a great overview of the war, and I like that. Tackling topics like this can be hard for children, to grasp where things sit in the context of everything that went on, and this really helps to do that in a very readable way. What really surprised me though was the quiz at the end, which I then used with two of my children (aged 9 and 13). Some of the questions were ones I wouldn't have known before I read the book ("what did Finnish soldiers wear on their feet?"..." Which leader's name meant 'Man of Steel'?"), but they got most of the questions right - so clearly, they had been picking things up from the book.

The book does advertise the Weird World of Wonders website, which has some fun activities, downloadable parts of books in the series, news of events, and a game. The game is fun, more of a problem solving one than anything else, but the children enjoyed it, and clearly did better at it than me!

I would highly recommend this. Although I think it is aimed at Key Stage 2, my older kids also enjoyed reading it, and the overview aspect is useful for them. Its one of those books I'm really glad we got.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My 9 year old Nephew loves these types of books and I think it is all down to do with Horrible Histories as that series has just opened up a new way of teaching history to kids. My nephew is currently engrossed in this book and he loves finding out facts that he probably wouldn't be interested in if it wasn't for this style of book. Whilst obviously covering all of the serious issues of World War II it does so in a way that appeals to kids by using little cartoon drawings and setting out the facts in a more readable style than just doing so in straight chapters. A brilliant book that covers things like searching for scrap for weapons to the evil psycho Hitler himself. A definite thumbs up from my nephew.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This was quite a good read. It was easy for me, but I'm an adult. I'd say it's aimed at kids of late primary school age, and is well-writen for them. One thing that surprised me is that, really, it doesn't feel like there's a lot of ony Robinson in there. There was one page showing his parents (if I recall correctly) in their military uniforms, and that was about it. But then, I think it's supposed to feel like it's written by kids for kids. Throughout, we meet the Curiosity Crew, who are a bit like the Famous Five. They appear as comic-book characters with clever little remarks about things like goosestepping and so on. This probably helps children to relate to what they're being told, which in turn helps understanding so is probably a good thing.

I did appreciate the level of detail to which this book went. It covered most of the grizzly details while trying to add a bit of humour, but handled the story of the persecution of the jews with a bit of sensitivity, warning the reader in advance that the following pages would make for uneasy reading. It deserves kudos for that. And this brings me on to another point. When I was at school, we did learn about the war, but all we were taught about was rationing and evacuees. This book actually explains some things about the War itself, which is refreshing for a children's book. It also unashamedly points out that many Germans (no, not all of them) were bad. Schools tend to shy away from this. Which probably means this won't be allowed in school libraries...

And that would be a shame because I think it's a genuinely good book for young people that could trigger a greater interest in one of the most fascinating periods in mankind's history.
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VINE VOICEon 25 July 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tony Robinson - he's that guy from Black Adder! He was so funny - so this book will be funny. Just like the great horrible histories books.

Well that was my thought process when I ordered this book. Unfortunately, with that kind of expectation it was a bit of a let down to be honest.

Clearly aimed for the younger age range 8-12's in style but the factual content probably lends itself more to older age range - so it doesn't quite match up.

Great photos from the war and those quirky little cartoons means it looks great - however when getting into the content you quickly realise that Tony's approach is not actually funny but just makes fun of people with sweeping statements "he was a nutter" or "he was a psychopathic lunatic. The cartoons mostly say factual things or things like "In the UK a rhinoceros like you is called a big twit". Which isn't even in the same league as horrible histories...

However, it IS informative (despite his sweeping biased statements), covering most of the key points and I learned a lot from it. However, my daughter aged 12 who has read EVERY horrible history book) and my son aged 8 (who loves action) both didn't really get into it and sadly it got left in daddy's study rather than be adopted onto their bookshelves. And I think that says it all.

*sigh*
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tony Robinson's style certainly comes through in this lovely little book. Learning should be fun whenever possible and this book makes learning about some of the more offbeat things about the last war, much more enjoyable. The book is full of cartoons and snippets of information that keep the reader interested. I read the whole book in one go and I'm not a child, well maybe a big kid!

This is a short extract about Fighters (Spitfires etc):
"Being a pilot in World War Two was no picnic - imagine climbing into a small metal box, which then shoots up thousands of metres into the air. You travel at more than 300 mph, the noise is deafening, and in front of you are a million dials and switches which never stop rattling, and which you have to watch really carefully to make sure your box doesn't fall out of the sky. Then the real fun begins - people start to fire guns and cannons at you. You duck and dodge, and try to fire back at them. If you get hit, you have to get out of your box quick, before it hits the ground or explodes in a massive ball of flame."

The whole book is written like that, really entertaining stuff. Kids will love it.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the first of Tony Robinson's "Weird World of Wonders" books that I've read, and I was very impressed. Obviously the book is dealing with a very serious subject but it manages to convey that whilst not getting kids bogged down and keeping it fairly lighthearted. The breadth of the subject matter covered is fantastic and Tony combines all the serious facts and figures with some rather more wacky facts that kids always love. If your child reads this book from cover to cover then they should have a really good grasp of exactly what caused World War II and what happened. I only wish that this sort of book was around when I was at school.

My 9 year old son read this too and enjoyed it, but said that he didn't like the style quite as much as the Horrible History books - which I guess it is competing directly with. He thought that this book would be more applicable for slightly younger readers than the Horrible History books. I'm not entirely sure that I see all that much difference between them - I enjoy both series very much, and would highly recommend this book.
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VINE VOICEon 20 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As you'd expect of a book by Tony Robinson, this is excellent! Very similar in style and tone to the Horrible Histories series, this is an overview of World War Two covering all the major battles, the reasons for the war taking place, the role of spies, the Blitz, the Holocaust and it contains a good balance of photos, drawings and interesting facts.

I was particularly impressed that the book highlighted the role of women, both at home and in the role of spy and also that a warning was given about the pages concerning the Holocaust, so that those could be skipped by more sensitive readers.

As well as the main text there is a quiz at the back as well as a helpful timeline and links are provided to a supporting website.

Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended and I'm very pleased to say that I learned something too!
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VINE VOICEon 1 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An attractive cover featuring Tony Robinson, who on the first page, tells how he doesnt want to stop until he's written about every single bit of history there's ever been. The style is very easy and catches childrens attention like the weird weirdo Adolf Hitler. Who was very good at making speeches but mad as a box of frogs whose crazy plan to create a super race. Includes a nutter called Benito Mussolini, another weirdo power crazed maniac.

In chronological order taking you through events as they happened. Also a timeline and a quiz at the end.

Has a horrible histories feel with the funny and gory. Would suit school age children in KS2 year 3-6.

Only negative, the glossy cover suggest an exciting illustrated contents but all the inside is in black and white.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders -World War II is a wonderful little book which will help explain this important time of history to those kids who are under eleven and have a love of history or even those who like to watch the famous Horrible History series on television which I also think is a very unique way of learning the history of the world.
I love how Tony Robinson used the old fashioned comic illustrations to describe what happened during this time in history but without terrifying children. I have long past my youth but even I enjoyed reading it.
Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders- World War II is a very engaging book which I would recommend to any parent or even friend of the family to introduce this very important time of history to their children.
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VINE VOICEon 25 June 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a fantastic little book aimed mainly at young readers from around the age of seven, but on a recent camping trip with friends my nine year old daughter found it difficult to get her copy back off the grown ups. Having recently learnt about WW2 at school I thought this would be an ideal book for her and I wasn't wrong. Nearly every page contains fascinating and funny snippets of trivia, but whilst there's much to enjoy it never shys away from describing the unpleasant stuff too. There is much to learn from this time and I think it's very important that children are taught this from an early age. Where we live there is an annual forties weekend so my kids have already been immersed in the subject and this book is a great way for them to learn more about the time.
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