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Suggestions for Using This Book with Young
Arts/Social StudiesChoose one historical figure presented in the book and research his or her life and contributions. Compose a feature article about the person whom you chose to research.
Technology Education/Social StudiesChoose one historical figure presented in the book and create a Google Maps presentation that guides viewers through landmarks that were an important part of this individual’s life.
Language Arts/ScienceChoose one historical figure presented in the book and conduct research to determine what kind of medical treatment he or she would receive today. Present your findings in a multimedia presentation such as Prezi, Animoto, or Movie Maker.
Georgia Bragg was surrounded by art from an early age. Her entire family, including her parents and her brother, are artists. Before becoming an author, she tried her hand at various art forms, working as a printmaker, a painter, and a storyboard artist. Bragg is also the author of Matisse on the Loose, a middle grades novel that integrates her family’s love of art into the story of a young artist’s venture into the realm of copying the work of Matisse and replacing it with his own work. Today, the author lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.
Why this book “spoke” to me: This book “spoke” to me because as a middle school language arts teacher, I am constantly searching for books that will capture and hold my students’ attention. When I find a book that is appealing to reluctant readers, I can’t wait to read and share it with my students. How They Croaked is gruesome and irreverent, but that’s what makes it perfect entertainment for middle school minds. And if the book manages to impart some historical knowledge along the way, then that makes it twice as beneficial for students.
Personal Reaction:This is not a book that I would normally even consider reading, but when I saw it on the Kentucky Bluegrass Book Award list for the upcoming school year, I placed it on my “to read” list. This book is grotesque, irreverent, and funny, in a very dark way. While I personally do not prefer to read nonfiction or anything gruesome, I can see how this book would be a perfect choice for reluctant readers, especially male students. The book does a spectacular job of integrating humor and factual information so that readers walk away feeling entertained, with new insights into the lives (and deaths) of 19 well known historical figures.
Themes: Death & Dying
This gruesome nonfiction book provides insight into the deaths of 19 well known historical figures. It discusses the impact of primitive medical care on the outcomes of these individuals’ medical treatment. Told in 19 separate narrative passages, this book blends fact and dark humor to help students gain insight into the lives and deaths of these influential people. Each chapter begins with a caricature by illustrator Kevin O’Malley, followed by a brief explanation of why the subject was famous. Next, the author describes the subject’s death, providing illustrations and a list of relevant details about the subject or the time period.
Reviewers’ Comments:"O’Malley’s cartoon portraits and spot art add just the right notes of humor to keep the contents from becoming too gross. This all-too-informative study deserves the wild popularity it will without doubt acquire." – Booklist, starred review"The most reluctant of readers will find it difficult to resist this consistently disgusting chronicle of the gruesome deaths of 19 will famous people. Bragg's informal, conversational style and O'Malley's cartoon illustrations complement the flippant approach to the subject; the energetically icky design includes little skulls and crossbones to contain page numbers. Engaging, informative and downright disgusting." - Kirkus "Bragg holds forth on nineteen Big Names whose demises have raised eyebrows, questions, and probably a few lunches... Carried away on a swift-flowing stream of body fluids, medical ineptitude, and O’Malley’s deliciously snarky artwork, kids will agree they got exactly what they came for." – BCCB