Juvenile non fiction
In the Orono Public Library's children's wing we display new
books on higher shelves. One day I found myself eyeball to eyeball
with a grinning skeleton in doctor's attire. The title of the book in
question, as well as the gruesome vissage, startled me.
A proper reviewer most likely would have passed on Georgia
Bragg's How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. She
probably would have commented primly on the quality (lack of that is)
of today's children's lit. But we have never confused me with her,
Although in a morbid sort of way, the book is very interesting.
Kids go through phases where they will find it fascinating. The
deaths of a veritable who's who from King Tut to Einstein are examined
in vivid detail. Each chapter has a two page appendix of useful
A lot of what we "know" on this topic can be considered urban
legend. Cleopatra, for instance, did not meet her end at the fangs of
an asp. The tell tale pricks were made by a poisoned hair pin.
Garfield, the president, not the cat, was felled not by a bullet, but
by infection caused by the unwashed hands of his doctors. Forget
everything you've learned about Pocohantas courtesy of Disney films.
In addition to their last moments, there is information on the
lives and times of the famous subjects. This book may not be a parent
or teacher's cup of tea. But for a child at the stage where "Eew,
gross!" is a term of endearment it can provide a fascinating glimpse
On a personal note, in America in the twenty-first century tens, if
not hundreds, of thousands of non famous citizens like me are in
danger of dying early for lack of health insurance.
A great big shout out goes out to the people who are working so hard
to get the United States to join the civilized world in this regard.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod