October 27, 2013

It's a Feudal, Feudal World: A Different Medieval History

by Stephen Shapiro
Illustrated by Ross Kinnaird
Annick Press
44 pp.
Ages 9-12
August, 2013

Children love reading about the Middle Ages, a.k.a. medieval times, convinced it's all about knights and castles and the black plague in Great Britain. But their rather limited view of this historical time restricts their understanding of the extent to which developments then in exploration, trade, religion and other socio-cultural foundations were the basis for everything that came afterwards.  It's a Feudal, Feudal World takes steps to amend this by addressing all nature of the medieval times world-wide but uniquely in the form of infographics, thereby drawing all readers in.

Infographics are visual representations of factual information and include graphs, timelines, tables, maps, scaled diagrams and a variety of informational images which author Stephen Shapiro  ensures includes content that goes beyond the typical in It's a Feudal, Feudal World.  Topics included are the occupations of women (see image above from pg. 26); temporal and spatial distributions of the major religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism); the Crusades; the means and purposes of travel; the why's, what's and how's of trade; social hierarchies and occupations; general demographics; spread of knowledge; and the reasons for the onset and conclusion of the Middle Ages. 

By using images to portray the data, visual learners and others are more likely to recall and become engaged with the information.  Moreover, by presenting and organizing the information with
an assortment of visually inviting, colourful, bold images rife with humour (see image at left from pg. 32), illustrator Ross Kinnaird ensures the info is remembered. Using quirky caricatures of serfs, women, religious figures, machinery, landscapes and more, the general appeal of It's a Feudal, Feudal World guarantees it's use as a tool for research and a satisfying read for the young with historical queries about Medieval Times.

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