50 Things You Should Know About the First World War
written by Jim Eldridge
2015 (QEB Publishing)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
For hundreds of years, countries in Europe had been at war with one another. Each nation wanted more power and more land, which they hoped to take from the countries around them.
Ever have a task that you thought was too monumental to tackle? You end up taking care of it in small bites. Kind of like Bruce Bogtrotter eating the cake in Matilda. I bring this up because World War I is a huge subject that can be very daunting to tackle, but if you break it up in small pieces like 50 Things does, you don't get overwhelmed and end up learning a lot. As expected, the subject is presented in chronological order. Each year is like a chapter with a timeline at the beginning of each of these chapters. Important topics for each year are featured with bite-sized paragraphs. Early on, readers learn about trench warfare with brief explanations, impressive photographs, and a concise diagram. This book is chock full of text features which makes it infinitely more digestible than a straight narrative text that I would have been subjected to in my childhood. A language arts teacher could set this book under a document camera to showcase how to write nonfiction text and include features like bold print and captions. A social studies teacher would love the maps in 50 Things. In addition to a timeline, each yearly introduction contains a map on the two page spread that explains what is happening at that time. The back matter has a Who's Who gallery of important figures for both sides of the conflict.
50 Things will help readers of any age get a good introduction to World War I. It's a great gateway to deeper research into particular subjects that came from this war. If you want to understand the 20th century (and you should!), you need to study World War I. It is terribly sad, but instructive when it comes to events that occur later in the century.