The time team
These books describe the technologies of different civilisations, all of which are covered by the history national curriculum. The series treats technology in its widest sense - all the books deal with food, clothing, building, crafts, transport, warfare, health and communications.
Judith Crosher's book on Ancient Greece is particularly good, for she tries to explain how climate and circumstance created the Greeks' technology. Other volumes in the series offer less explanation, but nevertheless contain good narrative descriptions of the technology of the time.
Teachers (as well as pupils) will find them informative, and some of the facts the reader learns are fascinating. Did you know, for instance, that the Maya boiled their maize with ground-up snail shells, which helps the body absorb niacin (if they had not done this they would have died of pellegra, a vitamin deficiency which makes your skin peel off)?
In addition each book contains ideas for practical work. Readers are told, for example, how to make an Aztec chocolate drink or sew a Viking woman's cap. I'm not sure how many Greek encaustic paintings will be produced, but most of the ideas seem excellent, and many of these books will go home with the teacher to be adapted for lesson plans.
It is difficult to explain practical techniques in writing, but the descriptions are generally clear,and the colourful illustration particularly so. Reading age is quite high; these books will be beyond less able primary pupils.
However, the books are attractively designed, and each includes a timechart, glossary and ideas for further reading.
John D Clare is head of history at Greenfield comprehensive school, County Durham