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Imogen Russell Williams reads children's books like it's going out of style, then writes about them for The Guardian, The Metro and the TLS. The Big Book of the UK is the first book she's written herself. (Looking up rude place names was her favourite.)
The inspiring stories of 50 key figures in Great Britain's history, who had an impact on the ways we live, think and feel today. Throughout the centuries, the history of this small island nation has been shaped by the people who were born in Britain or arrived on its shores. From early Britons to modern pioneers, leaders, writers, athletes and activists, this country has contained a wealth of incredible talent, only made 'greater' by our history of immigration, integration and innovation. This beautiful large-format gift hardback features stunning full-colour artwork throughout. Each page spread is devoted to a tale of an incredible Briton, told by talented writer and children's book critic Imogen Russell Williams and brought to life by Sara Mulvanny's vivid illustration. Discover the enthralling and diverse stories of 50 brilliant Britons through the ages, from the warrior queen Boudicca of early Britain, who rose in revolt against the Romans, to activist Malala Yousafzai, who fights for every girl's right to an education today. The gripping tales include key figures from all areas of British life - science, medicine, entertainment, sports, activism and more. Featuring the inspirational lives and achievements of amazing people such as Florence Nightingale, Alan Turing, Mary Prince, Stormzy, Charles Darwin and Noor Inayat Khan, Great Britons is not only a celebration of our history as an island, but also as part of a far larger and greater world.
This accessible and lively journey through the UK combines a geographical tour of our islands with social and historical themes such as music, transport, food, clothes, sport and how, for example, UK time has defined global time zones since the definition of the Greenwich Meridian. Written and collected by children’s book critic Imogen Russell- Williams, it is not surprising to find a spread on Bookish Britain and a field guide to magical creatures, but equally entertaining are spreads on the famous British sweet tooth and the confectionery industry or conversely on Keeping Fit and Healthy: where we learn that The Isles of Scilly are the most sporty and active place in the UK! One cannot help but wonder if a subliminal Brexit message is intended about the geographical tour beginning in Northern Ireland, but it is certainly refreshing not to have London front and centre and for all the home nation capitals to get their own double page spread and equality of coverage. The selection of facts about each place or theme is inspired, diverse and non-jingoistic; defining the British Empire, for example as ‘also responsible for the rise of slavery and the loss of resources, identity and language for other countries.’ The varied page layout is a particular strength combining colourful images and clear textboxes and labels. There is an enjoyable quiz on “How Well do you know the UK?” at the end of the book, but I really cannot understand why there is not at the very least a Contents page to guide young researchers to an area of interest. Nevertheless, this is an attractive and fascinating book which will, I guarantee, with every page turn present the reader with something they did not know or had not heard of.