Nonfiction – Fiendish Crimes and Punishing Times

Criminals have existed since the beginning of written history, and many of those criminals have been children. Living in unsafe and unsanitary conditions throughout history, children have been forced to turn to theft to survive. This book chronicles the crimes and punishments of children, with an unspoken focus on English and American criminals. Everything from workhouses (think Oliver Twist) to reform schools to military schools are touched upon, with hangings and convict ships given in lurid detail. The scope of the book is such that few bits of information are presented in anything but broad strokes, but children should be interested and intriqued both by glimpses of the past and a look into the present.

Every page has illustrations, each of which is clearly captioned. Each page also has a sidebar giving a five or six sentence summary of a related topic. Most pages have two paragraphs in the main body. Vocabulary terms that children may be unfamiliar with are listed in a Word Bank that runs along the bottom of the page, negating the need to flip to the back of the book to discover the meaning of a word.

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