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The Gladiators by Tuma, Tomas [Firefly Books, 2011] Board book [Board book] Hardcover
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Top review from the United States
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Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-fifths worth reading! The only reason I've relented and started putting stars up there is to credit the good ones, which were being unfairly uncredited. So, all you'll ever see from me is a five-star or a one-star (since no stars isn't a rating, unfortunately).
I rated this book WORTHY!
Author Tomáš Tůma has given one in the eye for all those who try to claim that books must conform to a specific format because of the Library of Congress or whatever. The hell with Congress. The Hell with traditional antiquated and staid publishing! This book gets going the minute you open the cover.
There's no prologue. There are no introductory pages. There's not even a copyright page (it's all on the back cover).
This thing really enamored me. I would have been completely captivated by it as a child. As it was I was pretty much in love with it the minute I opened the cover and before I read a thing in it! It's about the Colosseum in Rome, and the gladiators who fought there, and the entire book inside is designed to look like the Colosseum (for some interior images, visit my blog - URL above).
Each of the first three "pages" digs down the tiers of seating until we reach the book proper, where each oval page tells us something about Rome, the Romans, the Roman military, Roman architecture and engineering, the Colosseum, or the gladiators.
The pages are stiff card, about one eight of an inch thick, so despite the thickness and weight of this book (it must weigh a pound or two!), there isn't a whole heck of a lot of text, but there's plenty for any young reader to get their teeth into.
The information is very accurate as far as I was able to ascertain. For example, the author knows that contrary to popular (and Hollywood) opinion, the thumb-up gesture was not a reprieve, but a death sentence for the losing gladiator - a blade to the throat. The thumb down meant sword down, leave him be.
I highly recommend this inventive, creative, and well-executed book. It's so cool! From what I've read at B&N, there are other books of this nature out there, too. There's one on medieval castles, and one on pyramids. I am, I admit, really curious to see how that particular one is laid out! Is the first page only a quarter inch square‽