Walker Children’s, 2012. 978-0802727947
Synopsis: Ever wonder how some of the most famous people died? Curious about how history’s biggest players met their end? Find out how George Washington, Marie Curie, Edgar Allan Poe, and other famous people died (and lived) before the wonders of modern medicine.
Why I picked it up: It was another recommendation from a library school classmate.
Why I finished it: Let’s face it: death is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to you. It’s worse than your little brother reading your diary. It’s even worse than wearing the same thing to school as that girl you hate. It pretty much trumps everything. Plus, it’s gross. We don’t really think about how terrible deaths were before doctors stopped using leeches to suck our blood and making us swallow chemicals that were probably just as lethal as whatever we are suffering from. Reading this book makes me really glad for a little thing called antibiotics and Tylenol, especially considering that antibiotics could have saved many of the persons in this book from an awful end. Reading this book also makes me a little bit queasy, but what else can one expect in a book called How They Croaked? But once one can overcome the gross factor, it’s pretty interesting and cool to learn about death (and life) before modern medicine. Plus, there’s interesting little tidbits about each famous figure and facts related to their deaths at the end of each chapter and further reading at the end of the book. It’s definitely disgusting, but totally cool at the same time.
Other related materials: Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 by Sally M. Walker; Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman; The Houdini Box by Brain Selznick; Don’t Touch That Toad and Other Strange Things Adults Tell You by Catherine Rondina, illustrated by Kevin Sylvester; The Blood-Hungry Spleen and Other Poems About Our Parts by Allan Wolf, illustrated by Greg Clarke; History’s Witches: An Illustrated Guide by Lisa Graves; Eyewitness: Witches and Magic Makers by Douglas Hill; A Newbery Halloween: A Dozen Scary Stories by Newbery-Winning Authors selected by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh; Scary Stories: The Complete 3-Book Collection by Alan Schwartz, illustrated by Stephen Gammell