Reviews /

Roman Soliders

Authored by Tegen Evans (Senior Editor)
Illustrated by Tom Troese
Published by Nosy Crow Ltd

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This non-fiction picture book invites us to ‘Discover the World of the ancient Roman Army’ through accessible text and colourful, lively illustrations.

The success of the Roman Empire and the huge impact it had on Europe and beyond were clearly built on the backs of the soldiers we learn about in this book. Roman Soldiers is a straightforward and easy to follow exploration about what we know about the lives they led. As laid out in its contents, each double-page spread begins with a question about one aspect of a soldier’s life e.g. ‘How was the Roman army organised? What uniform and weapons did the soldiers need? What happened if the soldiers were injured in battle?’ An introductory paragraph provides a clear, informative answer which is enhanced by appealing, informative illustrations. Further facts are provided in short paragraphs and captions.

Tom Troese’s illustrations really bring this ancient history to life. They are painted in a pleasing, muted colour palette, possibly based on the colours of Roman mosaics like those shown in the handsome endpapers. The pictures are full of movement and action. Children would particularly enjoy exploring the scenes showing soldiers practising battle formations, honing their weapon skills and carrying out a siege. The friendly, large-eyed faces of the soldiers remind us they were people as well as soldiers. Pages such as What was life like in the forts? and Where did soldiers live when they were on the move? help us imagine what their day-to-day existence beyond the marching, training and fighting. The accompanying text is clear and accessible to children, presenting key information and interesting details in bite-sized chunks.

Roman Soldiers would be an excellent choice for any Year 3-6 class learning about the Romans. Teachers might choose a page to model report writing while children could use it for independent research. It would be a real book-corner favourite amongst those children who prefer nonfiction texts when reading for pleasure.