Baby kings and sticky ends exposed
A cartoon history is the winner of the annual book award by The TES Scotland and the Saltire Society. Orion Press, a London-based publisher, receives the pound;500 prize for The Story of Scotland by Richard Brassey and Stewart Ross.
The judges described the text and drawings (by Richard Brassey) as "lively, humorous and visually appealing". They noted that in their attempts to grab readers' attention, the authors managed to ensure that historical accuracy was retained.
Good value for upper primary use at pound;4.99, The Story of Scotland includes jokes likely to appeal to adults and children alike. Rain-soaked soldiers on Hadrian's Wall ask: "How long do you think we'll have to stay here?" "Only about 300 years."
There are potted biographies of "Top Scots" from Kenneth McAlpin to John Logie Baird and obituaries on early Stewart monarchs - "baby kings and sticky ends". Today's Scotland is symbolised by the Skye bridge and "a resounding 'Aye'" to devolution The TESSSaltire award is now in its eighth year. It is intended to encourage publishers to provide materials designed exclusively for the Scottish curriculum - from three to 18 - despite the limited print runs possible for such a relatively small market compared with the English national curriculum. Alternative materials - such as electronic media for example - are also eligible for entry.
Three entries commended by the juges show the range of topics. Get into Enterprise published by Scottish Enterprise is a loose-leaf set of practical materials for pupils at 14 and older.
It would be useful in personal and social education or for those learning how to start up and run a company or handle their own finances.
Thomas Nelson is commended for Intermediate 1 and 2 Mathematics, one of several entries which show that publishers have realised the needs and opportunities of Higher Still, including courses at sub-Higher level.
Among several modern Scottish histories, Oxford University Press's A History of Scotland - Modern Times stood out for immediate accessibility to secondary pupils, not least through a stimulating range of illustrations sensibly used (other books had photographs so small as to lose all impact). Modern studies teachers would profit from looking at the Oxford text: it accurately and concisely covers the recent Scottish constitutional changes and the setting up of the coalition.
The judges who considered entries ranging from primary school science to Standard grade modern languages and two offerings for Higher Still physics were Linda Boyle, depute headteacher of Borestone primary, Stirling, Sheila Campbell, headteacher, Kilbowie primary, Clydebank, Gerald Mortimer, senior lecturer in the education faculty of Strathclyde University and convener of the Saltire Society's education committee.
Willis Pickard is editor of The TES Scotland and one of the judges