An Irish History Book for Kids

Children’s Book review by Jack Willis-Hall, 12,  and his mum, Dianne Hall

John D. Ruddy, Manny Man Does The History Of Ireland. Wilton, Cork: The Collins Press, 2016.
RRP: €6.99

Jack: The multitasking youtuber, writer, actor, teacher, illustrator and historian, John D. Ruddy, is very good taking a subject that kids find dull and withdrawing them from their devices. He makes them sit down and become engrossed in Irish history as he tells the stories and facts. From the 20,000 BCE Ice Age all the way to 2016, he brings characters from history alive with drawings of his own making.  Since reading his book, I have found the history of Ireland to be a fascinating subject.

Dianne:  The book version of John D Ruddy’s youtube channel is nicely packaged, small, hardback with his trademark drawings liberally sprinkled throughout. He uses a page for each topic/time period and in this way he keeps the same cracking pace that he does in his videos. Although the book is small with plenty of cartoons, it is still quite wordy and so would be suitable for upper primary and secondary students who can concentrate on this level of text. The humour does appeal to that age group (certainly it did to Jack) and most pages have at least one funny line as well as the cartoons. Reading it after seeing the youtube clips means that Ruddy’s deadpan humour makes more sense than just reading the book.  The font used is one that mimics chalkboard writing and as such may not be suitable for young people who need a more regular looking text.  This is a book that covers the history of Ireland briskly and with humour and so would be fun if anyone is teaching this age group or has a young person in their life wanting to know more about Irish history.

Jack Willis-Hall has just begun High School in Melbourne. His specialist interest is in music and he plays the violin. His mother, Di Hall, is an Irish Historian at Victoria University specialising in the medieval and modern periods.