Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Things I Learned From Books - by Penny Garnsworthy

Recently we drove around country Victoria and happened upon a curious shop called Steptoe and Son. You can imagine the incredible range of 'things' they sold, but they also had quite a selection of second-hand books. As is my custom, I browsed the shelves and came away with what I thought might be an interesting little book (and for the princely sum of $1).

As it turns out, this little hardcover book The Ancient World (by I Tenen M.A.) is far more than just interesting. As I started to read I just couldn't put it down. You see, I studied Ancient History at high school (and loved every minute of it) and this little book is the kind of text book I would have used then; packed full of well researched information, photographs and drawings.

From prehistoric and stone-age times to the Egyptians, the Cretans and the Persians to the Romans, it details everything in chronological order and in everyday language that, dare I say it, even a high school student could understand. And I was hooked from the very first page.

You probably know that people living in the Stone Ages used leather satchels to carry their water and milk. But did you know that when those satchels started to leak, they were most likely lined with clay? And this is how earthenware bowls were invented.

You have no doubt seen what we now call Lake-Dwellings (grass huts suspended on poles over the water) at various island resorts around the world. Well, did you know they were first built late in the New Stone Age and that historians have traced a long chain of them through the Swiss and Italian lakes, south-east down the Danube and north-west along the Rhine, through France and Belgium, in England, Scotland and Ireland?

And this is only the first chapter ...

Books can make us laugh and cry, they can entertain and they can challenge. But good books always have something to say, and we never stop learning from them.

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