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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 October 2011
Targeted at children, this new series from the Lonely Planet francise introduces some of the world's great cities. The focus is on "stuff that's cool to know" and the books are a terrific introduction to each city. My boys are aged 7 and 11 and they both have really enjoyed these books.

"Rome: Everything you ever wanted to know" covers a wide range of topics: the history of the city, key architectural highlights, religious habits, inventions, food, fashion and the way people live today. The book is in full colour with many photographs and illustrations and includes a comprehensive index. The only thing that I could think to have added would be a map of the city.

While there's plenty of educational text, it's written and presented in an upbeat and quirky way. Some of the many cool facts that my kids enjoyed reading about are The Mouth of Truth (which supposedly will bite off your hand if you lie to it), the Capuchin crypt decorated with the bones of 4000 Capuchin monks, the crazy traffic, the way that stray cats are protected and the public baths and toilets in Ancient Rome.

Whether you're preparing for a trip or just interested in learning more about the world, this is a fantastic addition to a child's library.
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on 19 April 2012
We are going to Rome in a few months and I want to whet my 10 yr old daughter's appetite for the forthcoming trip. This book has a great range of speed facts which I think is quite well placed for my needs to introduce this city and its history to my daughter before we go. It covers the history and current culture of the city fairly well (let's face it, most children aren't going to tolerate a standard layout travel companion) but in very little depth which makes it actually quite punchy and appealing, especially with some very quirky facts. Definitely a book to use before a trip rather than a study aid. What I believe is a massive error is the lack of a map to put much of the facts into context. The front and back both fold into each other so leave a double open page perfect for placing a map but it isn't used at all! Additionally, a brief Italian phrase section would be useful.
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VINE VOICEon 4 February 2012
"Not-For-Parents Rome" is chockablock full of information about the long history of this ancient city, and much of it is interesting. The book, however, has a distinct problem in presentation, since its often fascinating facts about the almost 3000-year-old city, its people, and its customs are thrown together all higgledy-piggledy. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason behind the order, as the table of contents illustrates (e.g. . . . the Capuchin cemetery, the Vatican, Cats, Fashion Fest . . . etc); nor is there a logical context within which to set the snippets of information. Each page contains several terse statements, which too often go unexplained, about topics that may be only vaguely related to each other.

I would say that the book's biggest problem is that the authors haven't settled on an age group, or even a gender, for their readers. From the outrageous puns (some are fun) and the 'naughty bits'--emphasis on the ancient Roman all-in-it-together public loos, and the ancient version of toilet-tissue--I would say that it was geared for boys between ten and fifteen, although I can't imagine them being the slightest bit interested in the matching handbags worn by today's smart Roman women. For that matter, would girls of that age-group really want to know that "The center of Roman fashion is a stylish stretch of road known as Via Condotti" or that "Via Veneto is also a favorite with the chic crowd."? This same section (pp. 22-23) demonstrates the slapdash nature of the book, because amidst the "dudettes and dudes" [ !! ], the authors have inserted painted costume illustrations of an "Emperor" (holding the hand of an unidentified purple-clad woman that may or may not be the empress), "Plebeian", "Slave", "Senator", and "Equestrian", without any further comment or definition.

The authors are best when they define their terms, as in the section, "Water Wonder" (pp. 54-55), in which they inform the young reader that the name of the Trevi fountain comes from the Italian, "tre vie", meaning the place where the three roads come together (An additional comment that the ancient Romans always set up fountain shrines at such places, which were perceived as dangerous, would also have been of interest). While this is one of the more informative pages, which relates that the coins thrown in the fountain are collected and given to charity, it earned a minus from me for the large inserted photo--unidentified--of a fountainhead from in front of the Pantheon across town [and even though a kid may not know the difference, I think accuracy is to be desired, especially from "Lonely Planet", which is usually so punctilious in its presentation].

The two pages about the "Bridges over the Tiber" are also informative [78-79], although the authors 'tell' rather than 'show'; in this case, they 'tell' how the Romans designed the bridges like the prow of a ship on the upstream side, to facilitate the flow of the water. However, none of the photographs of the many bridges on this page actually 'show' this phenomenon (which is very visible when the Tiber is low). They also 'tell' that the Ponte Fabrizio holds a four-faced representation of the god Janus (who usually had a double face), but then they provide only a long-shot photo, and crop the end of the bridge where the marble herm is located. In other words, the authors used stock footage, instead of walking over to the entrance of the bridge and pointing a digital camera at the god's head on its marble post, which, at eye level, is easily accessible at the bridge's entrance as one crosses towards Tiber Island.

The book contains neither maps nor the simplest chronology of emperors, and while the former is fundamental, the latter would give the reader a context for the statement that the Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum was a tribute to the emperor "who had been away conquering Parthia" [p. 70]--a map showing the extent of the Roman Empire would likewise 'show' just how far off Parthia--North-east Persia--was from the Forum. Similarly, instead of drawing a large cartoon cat (Nothing against cartoon cats!) sprawled across the marble foot of the Emperor Constantine [71], the book could have either used the actual picture of a real cat nestled (and dwarfed) between two of the gigantic toes, or failing the use of such a photo (available at Roman souvenir stands) due to copyright, they could have stood a real kid (who would appear minuscule) next to the pedestal and Constantine's humongous foot, for scale.

The illustrations are a hodgepodge of drawings, cartoons, old engravings, and inserted photographs, many of which are too small and dark to be of practical use. And I cannot understand, when Ancient Rome is so rich in wall paintings and mosaics, why the authors have chosen, for instance, photographs of real tigers and lions and bears (oh my!) and a peacock, when the colourful ancient mosaics of these animals, such as those of the 4th century at Piazza Amerina, would--again--'show', rather than 'tell', both the artistry of the ancient Romans and the great variety of animals that they imported from the far reaches of India and Africa.

Bottom Line: Too much 'tell', not enough 'show'!

Reviewed for Vine;
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on 26 October 2013
Bought this book for the reluctant reader (boy aged 10) in our family and because we are visiting Rome soon. Very informative book in bite size chunks. It's certainly helping us put together our itinerary wish list. Recommended.
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on 16 April 2013
I lived in Rome for years and have just taken my 8 year old son on holiday there. This guide was brilliant in picking out all the kind of things that children that age - especially boys - are interested in, especially some of the more gruesome aspects of the city's history. He read it regularly throughout the holiday. Certainly recommend it.
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on 2 July 2014
Bought this when we were going with our 11 year old daughter to Rome. Although at first glance it seems quite a childish book, it's actually crammed full of interesting bite-sized facts - many of which were not in either of our adult guide books. There were lots of pictures too so you were really clear what you were looking out for. She also loved guiding us round and telling us the things in her book. Would buy others from the series if we were visiting there.
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on 5 January 2013
My ten year old read it cover to cover before our trip and quoted from it whilst in Rome - so what more can you ask for!
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on 17 November 2015
My 9 year old son loved this book and we found it really useful and interesting, too. We found a few more unusual things in Rome in here - just wish we'd had more time in the city itself to see it all! The book is written to engage a child with bursts of information that don't bore yet do more than scratch the surface.
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on 8 February 2016
I thought this was a dumbed down travel book rather than one specifically written for children. I was expecting something like the Horrible History books with gory and silly details about Rome but it was quite boring.
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on 9 January 2015
This looks really interesting for my 8 year old son prior to a weekend in Rome. He likes facts, figures and historical information. It would also be suitable for older children / early teens.
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