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Ick! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American History

Ick! Yuck! Eew!: Our Gross American History

By: Lois Miner Huey
Publisher: 21st Century Books
Publication Date: August 2013
ISBN: 978-0761390916
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2013

If you’re a young history buff, you just might want to “take a trip in a time machine” to check out the year 1770. Taking a look at pictures of people in books sure looks interesting, but was it really? Perhaps ... if you like yucky things like bugs ‘n poop. Smelly things should be high on your list as well if you are planning on having a good time on that trip. June is the perfect time to have that experience, but just what will you see? Take a close look at that street if you dare. There are “layers of poop” everywhere and if that isn’t an eye-opener, how about the fact that “dead dogs, cats, and rats pile up in the streets.” Maybe you just might want to stay home.

Don’t try to rush inside to get away from the stench because it’ll just follow you there as well. Stinky smells are everywhere, including the “smelly garbage” in the backyard where that outhouse is. Just trying to be sociable in that day and age could be problematic. Trying to get close to anyone would make you want to hold your nose. Things like “bad breath from rotting teeth,” smoking, and rarely bathing aren’t exactly a turn on. Probably the only way for women to save face was to hide the stench by “chewing cinnamon, cloves, orange peel, and honey melted in ashes.” Oh, and they also smoked pipes to cover it up. Eew!

If the smells won’t slay you, how about the battle of the bugs. The mosquitoes will drive you bonkers during the day, but at night there’s yet another little problem awaiting you when you head to bed. You might not be able to “see the little red bugs all over the bed,” but they’re sure to find you. Bedbugs “crawl everywhere: all over you, the bed, the wallpaper, and the floor.” Even if you get up to sit in that upholstered chair they’ll find you there. Ready to head back to today? Not yet because you’ll find many more ick, yuck, and eew things back in our history!

This is an amazingly fun trip into the grosser side of American history. This book just shines with the disgustingly gross factor that young readers love. In addition to being grossed out, they’ll be treated to a bit of American history they never knew existed. This is not only a very entertaining read, but also one that could be used as a stepping stone for a school report. There are several historical tidbits that could be used as a takeoff point for one. The layout is fun with an assortment of photographs and print reproductions to check out. There are numerous informative sidebars that add to the yuck factor. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.

Quill says: This book has just the perfect gross factor to interest students of American history ... the yucky one that is!

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