In cartoon panels, the inimitable Williams offers snapshots of ancient Rome from the mythological creation of the universe to the fall of the empire.
Lightly salting her account with Latin quips (“In theobroma cacao fidemus!”), Williams pens a semiserious narrative history broken up into bite-sized bits on single-topic spreads (“The Gruesome Gauls”). She illustrates them with small cartoon scenes that depict significant incidents or scenes of daily life. Dropping side comments and the occasional Res vera (“fact”) as he goes, a dozy dormouse aptly named Dormeo Augustus squires young readers along. He leads them past the major gods, the tale of Romulus and Remus, Rome’s first seven kings, the Republic, the Caesars and a select few other emperors. There are side excursions to the Forum and a crowded bath, plus glimpses of patrician and plebeian life, slavery, gladiators and the renowned Roman army. Though a certain amount of mayhem makes its way into her account, the author tones down the worst excesses (as Dormeo puts it, the Sabine women were “treated most cruelly”—that’s one way to put it) or acknowledges them only in passing.
Not a very detailed picture, but broad enough to leave younger readers with a general sense of how grand the grandeur was. (Informational picture book. 8-10)