Title of the work
Country of the First Edition
Country/countries of popularity
First Edition Date
First Edition Details
Katie Daynes, Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Long Ago. London: Usborne, 2018, 13 pp.
Instructional and educational works
Toy and movable books
Children (c. 4–10)
We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.
Author of the Entry:
Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, email@example.com
Elizabeth Hale, University of New England, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Daynes (Author)
Katie Daynes studied modern languages at the University of Cambridge before becoming a non-fiction copy-writer. She went on to specialise in young children's fiction and non-fiction, writing mostly for Usborne Publishing. Her prolific output includes re-tellings of traditional tales such as The Ant and the Grasshopper (Usborne, 2008) and The Enormous Turnip (Usborne, 2014), non-fiction titles such The Story of Diwali (Usborne, 2008) and titles in Usborne's Famous Lives series: Cleopatra (2004), Winston Churchill (2006). She wrote titles for Usborne's See Inside series, including See Inside Castles (2005), See Inside Ancient Rome (2006), See Inside Your Body (2006). She is the author of Usborne's Lift the Flap Question and Answers series, which includes the following titles in the Lift-the-Flap series: Questions and Answers about Long Ago, Animals, Our World, Science, Space, Body, Dinosaurs, Food, and Time.
Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, email@example.com
Peter Donnelly (Illustrator)
This beautifully-illustrated book offers young readers an interactive immersion in history. The histories of many periods and peoples are covered, with the book divided into sections based on the sorts of questions that people might ask about the past: Where? Who? Why? What? How? When? and Which? There is an illustrated “What happened when?” timeline at the end of the book which places items from throughout the book in chronological order. The ancient world plays an important role throughout the book, with Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Celtic culture accounting for 13 of 64 illustrated flaps. The historical figures and settings are depicted in a colourful cartoon-like style while nonetheless capturing a great deal of realistic detail.
Ancient Egypt features in Where? with “Where are the pyramids? (p. 1)” The exterior depicts the outside of the pyramids and some camels, while the underside depicts a map showing where the pyramids are in Egypt and an image of a pyramid in Mexico. Who? (pp. 2–3) features a coin of Cleopatra VII, with the under-flap revealing a cartoon picture of Cleopatra enthroned. The text explains that Cleopatra was the last Pharaoh of Egypt one of the few women to rule as pharaoh, and that many coins with Cleopatra's likeness were issued during her reign. Why? (pp. 4–5) asks why Egyptians made mummies, featuring a bandaged body in an open sarcophagus. The underside explains that bodies were preserved because it was believed people needed them in the afterlife and depicts modern children looking at the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun in a museum. What? (pp. 6–7) features a series of four carvings to decipher, including an Egyptian hieroglyph of “man.” It also depicts children looking at canopic jars in a museum, asking what they are for. Under the flap different organs are depicted above the jar they will end up in. Tutankhamun appears again in How? (pp. 8–9) as part of the question “How old are these objects?” His famous gold mask is shown on the outside of the flap, while beneath is a cartoon image of him sitting in ceremonial accoutrements and the information that the mask is 3000 years old and the “burial mask of an Egyptian king, Pharaoh Tutankhamun.” Queen Nefertiti appears twice in the book. A cartoon of her bust provides the Content Page illustration for When? (pp. 10–11) and in that section she is shown standing smiling in front of the Sphinx. The accompanying information relates when she lived, that she was married to Pharaoh Akhenaten, an approximation of the meaning of her name; the image of her bust is repeated with a note that it is a likeness of her made in her lifetime.
Ancient Rome appears less frequently than Egypt. Romans first appear in Who? An Indian queen is shown inside a litter under the question “Who rode in one of these?” and a Roman litter is given as the alternative culture example, captioned, “Rich Romans were carried by slaves in a litter.” Why? asks “Why are the Romans so famous?” and depicts a legion marching along a Roman road through the middle of a double-page spread. Beneath the flap the young reader is informed that the Romans ruled a vast empire for over 1000 years. A soldier and an emperor are shown pouring over a map, and beneath them three architectural forms associated with the Romans are illustrated. What? considers what the Romans did for fun. An image of a somewhat miserable-looking Roman in a toga sits atop a flap that has beneath it an image of gladiators fighting in an amphitheatre. Chariot-racing, board-games, swimming and athletics are also listed as Roman pass-times. Roman numerals also appear in What?, with numerals from 1–10 shown beneath the flap. “Roman gladiator” Spartacus appears alongside Nefertiti and Boudicca in When? His text explains that he led an army of slaves who fought their “Roman rulers” (and were beaten); “Boudicca – Celtic Queen” brandishes spear and sword with a smile in front of some round houses. The underside depicts her riding a chariot beside other Celtic warriors and notes that she led an unsuccessful rebellion against the Romans in England. Ancient Greece is only represented indirectly via the coin of Cleopatra mentioned above. This omission may be related to the prominence of Ancient Greece in Questions and Answers about Art (see entry in this database) and a decision to have Greece in one volume or the other rather than both.
One of the most positive things about this charming title is the manner in which it treats as normal children's potential for interest in history. Set alongside a range of STEM-themed titles in the series (the only other non-STEM title being Art), this book presents the past as natural topic of interest, fun and exploration. The lift-the-flap format is extremely child-friendly and playful. As these books may well be a child's first – or at least early – introduction to the subject of each book, this interactive and playful approach increases the likelihood that the child reader will consider these accessible and enjoyable subjects – an important early lesson.
The forms of “long ago” presented are many and varied. Periods covered range from the dinosaurs and the last ice age to questions about the invention of computers. Men and women are both depicted doing a range of activities. Topics within history are also varied, including questions about material culture, about the lives of those in the past and how those lives might differ from those of modern people, questions about technology, art, belief, and questions relating to the practice of history, such as “Why do we study the past?” and “How can you tell how old something is?” This diversity of questions and topics opens up the broad scope of what history is “about.”
Egyptian and Roman cultures are indicated to be an important part of the study of long ago, as indicated by their frequent appearances throughout the book. The prominent role of ancient Egypt is particularly noticeable and is perhaps connected to the visual appeal of ancient Egyptian material as well as its cultural importance. Information about Egypt primarily relates to ideas about death and the afterlife and pharaonic rule, subjects which can stretch young people's conception of how humans see the world. By contrast, the representation of Romans is more connected to fun and entertainment, although the Romans' enjoyment of leisure is indirectly contrasted with both their taste for empire-building and other peoples' resistance to empire (Spartacus and Boudicca). That dynamic is clarified by the realisation that there is no information about Roman religion or afterlife beliefs and nothing on the Egyptians love of war and empire. The timeline at the end of the book is a practical way to help young people to reinforce what they have learned at and to put it in chronological order. Overall this volume is an extremely enjoyable way for young people to discover past cultures and to learn about the practice of history.
Historical Advisor: Dr Anne Milard