Module 11 Informational Books
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley
In How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous, Bragg shares fun facts about various famous historical figures. She also details the illness or event that lead to their deaths as well as any medical treatment given in an effort to save them. A very common treatment throughout the book is bloodletting.
Bragg G. (2011). How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. New York: Walker and Company.
My Impressions of the Book
While the book is informative Bragg approaches the topic of death with humor. The humor does not distract from the facts in any way. Yes, it lightens the mood, but so many of these topics are overlooked in history. I found the medical treatment facts very interesting. For example, after President Garfield was shot a number of doctors inserted their unwashed pointer fingers in his back to find the bullet. These helpful doctors only managed to further injure him and become the cause of his infection. How They Croaked is amusing and opens the door to historical figures in a new and clever way.
Georgia Bragg has her tongue firmly in cheek as she describes "how some of the most important people who ever lived--died" in this engaging book (Walker, 2011). Beginning with King Tut and moving chronologically through to Albert Einstein, Bragg explains in a conversational style what maladies brought 19 of the great ones down. Listeners will be clued in to Henry VIII's gluttony, George Washington's little mouth of horrors, and James Garfield's oh-so-slow death by ignorance. Narrator L.J. Ganser uses sarcasm, timing, pauses, and tone to wring out every last ounce of disgusting, gross misery from the deaths of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Christopher Columbus, Napoleon, Mozart, and others. There are humorous subtitles to each story, such as "Marie Curie: You Glow Girl!," and sidebars that add to the history. Be sure to pair this with the print version so students can giggle at Kevin O'Malley's hysterical illustrations. A perfect choice for boys who are reluctant readers. - Tricia Melgaard, formerly Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK
Melgaard, T. (2011). How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous [Review of the book How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous, by G. Bragg]. School Library Journal, 57, 75.
Ideas for Library Use
Have a discussion with the book club and find out information they found interesting in How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous.