Monday book review – The Story of Britain

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Monday 1st December 2014

The Story of BritainI’ve been a fan of Mick Manning and Brita Granström’s books for quite a few years now.

The husband and wife team have written and illustrated a stack of award-winning and highly original books that really bring history to life.

My favourites include Taff in the WAAF, which was inspired by Mick’s mother, who served in the WAAF during the Second World War, and covers everything from life in the Blitz and dodging a Doodlebug to rations, dancing the jitterbug and listening to enemy Morse code.

Their book about the Fab Four, The Beatles, which I reviewed in January, got a glowing half-page review in The New York Times no less.

Their latest book, The Story of Britain, will do just as well, I reckon. A stunning tome, it covers British history from the Stone Age to the 21st century in a fun, yet highly informative way. It’s a wonderful introduction to history and best of all, it includes loads of amazing stories that will inspire children to delve into the past for themselves. As Mick himself told me: “Our book sets Britain’s history chronologically for children, from the moment Britain became an island to right here, right now.”

I particularly enjoyed the two pages that celebrate “a few more great things about Great Britain.” Mick and Brita’s choices include Joseph Swan’s light bulb, fish and chips, poet and painter William Blake and poets old and new (like Dylan Thomas and Benjamin Zephaniah) and they are keen to know what readers would choose.

While key moments in British history, like the English Civil War and Victoria’s Empire, are featured, I loved the quirky pages too. There can’t be many history books, for instance, that include the hippy and punk eras of the 1970s and 1980s – but this one does.

Mick and Brita’s approach to history books is to make them gripping, inspirational and entertaining – which in my view is just the way it should be. As the duo say at the end of The Story of Britain: “History isn’t just about famous people, it’s about you and me, it’s about our mums and dads and their mums and dads.”

The Story of Britain by Mick Manning and Brita Granström (Franklin Watts, £13.99)

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