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Our true histories

Real Lives series Victorian Country Children World War II Children By Sallie Purkis Aamp;C Black pound;10.99 each

This series of true-life stories should make a useful addition to a primary school's history resources and also links to literacy work on biographies.

The first two books, Victorian Country Children and World War II Children, each contain four biographies. Aimed at KS2, they are packed with information and held the interest of many children. But the dry factual writing style failed to capture the imagination of others. Several children said the pictures were unappealing. Although original photographs were also used, we thought much more could have been made of them.

A brief overview of the period provides a good background to the stories. A short section, specific to each book, about historical sources used is a very useful resource in its own right, giving a brief well-illustrated and "child-friendly" description of such things as census returns and directories. A time-line linking national events to events in the children's lives is helpful, as are the suggestions for follow-up activities, places to visit and ways to find out more.

Useful if not inspirational books.

Jan Rymer is a class teacher at Callicroft Junior School, South Gloucestershire

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