Wicked warriors and evil emperors by Alison Lloyd

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Ill. by Terry Denton. Puffin Books, 2010. ISBN 978 0 14 330434 0.
(Ages 10+) Warmly recommended. Humour. History. The inventive drawings of Terry Denton litter each page and tell the story of the fight for Ancient China, between an array of amazing emperors and warriors each intent on building his strength and defeating all comers in the bloodiest of ways. For readers, especially boys this is an instant winner, as weapons abound, armour is put on, heads chopped off, and rightful places achieved. From the first emperor, a young boy of 12, who had an impressive Prime Minister, Lord Shang, to the last emperor, the Qin province remained in power. This province took control after the period of the warring states and kept it for many years, before the Han Dynasty took over in 202 BC.
Lloyd gives some very funny and bloodthirsty stories in this potted history of China, and with Denton's drawings adding to the humour kids will read the book form beginning to end. Pages are interspersed with information about the weaponry used by the armies, other pages give easily absorbed outline maps and drawings of the soldiers, while chapters are divided up with lists and columns containing information given in an interestingly diverse way. All designed to hook the reader, the whole achieves this with ease. Some of the stories will have kids recalling and repeating them to their friends, while I am sure this book will be passed around the classroom for others to read.
A quiz on the last few pages will ensure the fun is continued, and a time line and list of the powerful ends this most entertaining book.
Fran Knight