________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 6. . . .October 9, 2015


Hard as Nails in Ancient Greece. (Hard as Nails in History Series).

Tracey Turner. Illustrated by Jamie Lenman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2015.
64 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $23.96 (RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-1515-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-1512-2 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Greece-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Greece-History-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

**** /4



Cleisthenes became famous for his politics, but first he had to battle a power-crazed tyrant, a ruthless rival, and an ancient family curse.

Hard As Nails Rating: 7.5

Cleisthenes’s Curse

Cleisthenes was born in Athens around 750 BCE into a well-off family, which, unfortunately had a curse upon it. Cleisthenes’s great-grandfather had killed political rivals after they took refuge in a temple, breaking his promise to keep them safe. As a result, Cleisthenes’s family was cursed and thrown out of Athens. They were eventually allowed back, but then got kicked out again because of the curse.


The 20 men and women in this book lived in Ancient Greece between 800-500 BCE. After a one or two sentence summary of who they were, Turner describes their life achievements (both good and bad) on a colourful double-page spread. A comical looking cartoon drawing appears on the page beside a Hardometer which measures cunning, courage, survival skills, and ruthlessness on a scale between one and ten. Some of the men discussed are Alexander the Great, Leonidas, Socrates, and Themistocles. The women featured in the book are Hypatia (a mathematician and astronomer) and Cynisca (entered a chariot team in the Olympic Games). Pelopidas, a Theban warrior who was eventually killed when fighting Alexander, received the highest Hard As Nails rating, a 9 out of 10. The book doesn’t only feature people though. The author includes information about the Greek city-states, such as Athens and Sparta, and a brief history of the Persian and Peloponnesian War. There are two fun sections in which readers can take a three question quiz to find out if they are a Stoic thinker, a Skeptic, or a Epicurean. And on the page that discusses Greek mythology, there are small paragraphs of information on Helen of Troy, Perseus and Medusa, Theseus and the Minotaur, and the 12 Labors of Heracles. Back materials begins with a Hard as Nails in Ancient Greece Timeline and ends with a small bibliography of books and online sources, a two page glossary, and an extensive index.

I am excited to add this book to our public library collection. It has appeal both inside and out, and a sturdy design. Its smaller size and eye-catching blue cover won’t intimidate reluctant readers either. I will be sure to point this book out to our young history readers or those who are doing projects on Ancient Greece.

Highly Recommended.

Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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