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A Child's History of the World

by V.M. Hillyer
460 pages, Biography/History
Reviewed by Jeanne

A fun, leprechaun-directed history of the ancient world, with some evolutionary content.

Plot

Written for children, this history of the world in a comedic style takes the reader from ancient history to the end of World War I in 1918.

Morality

As a history book, the facts are usually merely stated as they happened. However, the author doesn't focus on any immortality that isn't necessary, and he maintains a sense of right and wrong. For instance, though he mentions Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, he also mentions Joseph's gracious reception of them later.

Spiritual Content

The author seems to be an evolutionist, so that the first chapter deals with how in the beginning there were only stars, and then there was a spark that created the world, and from the waters of the earth came plants, insects, fish, monkeys, etc. To Hillyer's credit, however, he does say in the next chapter that this is only a guess as to how the world began.

Chapters Two and Three deal with what the author calls Primitive Man, and how they were little more than brute beasts. Then he discusses how they discovered fire and became civilized. The first three chapters can be completely skipped by Christian parents reading to their children, and it does not affect the rest of the book.

Hillyer talks about the different religions and pantheons of the world, including Greek and Roman gods. Islam and Muhammad make an appearance; Confucius and his teachings show up; Buddha trots onto the scene. The author also discusses some of the history we find in the Bible, including those of Abraham and Moses. He also later talks about Christ, His teaching, and His death, but never really talks about His resurrection. Saints, martyrs, churches, and the like all pop up from time to time.

Violence

In his second chapter, on primitive men, Hillyer says that they liked to drink blood and eat raw meat. Throughout history there have been wars and battles, of course, and the important ones are talked of here. Deaths by beheading and other forms of execution are discussed. Infanticide shows up. Nothing is graphic, but merely stated.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Hillyer uses a Prohibition poster as an illustration of a point in one chapter. Mentions of drinking, alcoholic beverages, and abstinence.

Sexual Content

Some of the illustrations in the chapters on the Greek feature marathon runners, who don't have any clothes. The pictures aren't graphic, however. Dealing with Cleopatra, it was necessary for Hillyer to mention her involvement with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony; he doesn't go further than saying that she 'flirted' with them and that they forgot everything except making love to her. Henry VIII shows up with his six wives, and divorce is mentioned.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

A Child's History of the World is a very funny, light telling of ancient and more modern history that will be sure to interest younger children. For Americans, most of their education in the realms of history deals with that of the United States; it is important, however, for children to be taught the bigger picture and for them to be able to see where the American culture comes from.

This book deals mainly with the progression of Western civilization from the Middle East, with the Greeks and the Romans and then moving to Constantinople, and from there to Anglo-Saxon England, and so on through history until the war that brought the Imperial world crashing down - the first World War. Many of Hillyer's chapters ends with the illustration of a comic little leprechaun in some way acting out what has happened in the previous section, and usually standing beside or sitting on a milestone with the specified date inscribed upon it. It is always fun to see this little fellow's antics through the pages, and serves to lighten the atmosphere of history into something that children will enjoy.

A perfect read aloud, any content that the parent or teacher does not agree with (such as the evolutionary introduction) can be skipped over or explained to students. The rest of the book is very good and enlightening, and Hillyer does an excellent job of pulling out interesting and lesser known tidbits for readers.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 8-10

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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