Mezzowriter's ReadWriter Blog

Reading, Writing, and The Search for Buried Gems of Literature

What I’m Reading #40: Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count Dracula July 26, 2010

In keeping with my fascination with the macabre, I took a small detour to some nonfiction this time.  (I fully acknowledge that I need to read more nonfiction.)

This one of the slim volumes in Scholastic’s “A Wicked History” series.

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Vlad the Impaler:  The Real Count Dracula (A Wicked History) by Enid A. Goldberg & Norman Itzkowitz

Franklin Watts (September 2009)

Pretty standard cover fare. I like the graffiti-style scrawl overlay.

Also available in the Wicked History Series:

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As biographies go, Vlad was pretty straightforward.  It’s clearly a series built on the premise of snaring readers with a bit of sensationalism.  But, from the viewpoint of a teacher and librarian, I can’t say I completely disapprove.

Strengths: The publishers hearts appear to be in the right place.  Get them reading.  I think we can all appreciate that it sometimes takes some pretty flashy stuff to get the attention of younger readers.  This is a good way to whet their appetites for reading nonfiction.  There will probably be more than a few morbid-minded readers in the audience that may be driven to read more. There are maps, glossaries, timelines, etc., all of which are good additions.

Potential Flaws: What appears to be a boon is also something of a weakness here.  As a sampling, it’s somewhat interesting, but they do lack depth.  There is only so far you can go in a volume so slim.  A number of reviews I found (none by major publications, unfortunately) cite the viewpoints of these books to be pretty negative and one-sided.

My Rating:

If you take these books at face value, they’re at least a way to get some readers to foray into nonfiction.  While they rely on some sensationalism, it’s somewhat watered down.  Readers expecting a spectacle will be disappointed.

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