Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Book of Time Outs: A Mostly True History of the World's Biggest Troublemaker

The Book of Time Outs: A Mostly True History of the World's Biggest Troublemaker

Deb Lucke
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Simon and Schuster, 2008   ISBN: 978-1416928294

All of us have days when we behave badly or inappropriately. After all, none of us are perfect and we all, on occasion, do things that are thoughtless or reckless, things that are against the rules. When we are young such actions often lead to us being told that we “need a time out!” and so we are sent to a corner or a room so that we can reflect on (or stew about) our badness.  The thing to remember at such times is that we are in good company. Over the centuries many rather famous people have done things that have got them into trouble, and sometimes they have paid dearly for their mistakes.

   One such person was Cleopatra, who shared the throne of Egypt with her younger brother, Ptolemy. Though they were royalty, these two young people fought all the time. When Cleopatra tried to remove her brother from the throne she was punished by the royal guardians “who carted her off to the middle of a desert for a time out.” Unfortunately this punishment did not stick and later, with Julius Caesar’s help, Cleopatra removed her brother from the throne permanently.

   Some of the people who broke the rules did so because they thought the rules deserved to be broken. Susan B. Anthony was just such a person. Even though she knew it was against the law to go into a voting booth, Susan did so anyway and was fined for doing so (and given a time out). She admitted that she had broken the rule because she thought it was stupid, and she was not in the least bit sorry.

   Rosa Parks also broke rules because she believed that the rules she broke were wrong. She refused to give up her seat on a bus so that a white man might sit down, and she was arrested for disobedience. In prison she made up her mind that she would, on her release, do everything in her power “to get the unfair law changed.” Later, after the law and many others like it were changed, Rosa Parks was celebrated for her courage and determination.

   In this excellent title the author pairs amusing pieces of text with funny illustrations to give young readers some engaging (mostly) true stories from history. Readers are warned that they cannot use the stories in this book to justify their refusal to eat their veggies or to do their chores.