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If The Smiths Sang About Charles Dickens…

In one of our Ask AbeBooks videos, we answered a letter from a woman seeking suggestions to keep her attention-span-challenged kid engaged when reading about school subjects.

One of the suggestions that my colleague Richard made was for Terry Deary’s Horrible Histories series . Featuring titles such as The Vile Victorians, Ruthless Romans and Awful Egyptians, the series attempts to put the often dry, boring and stodgy subject of history into terms a child will be enthralled by. In short, the series is often gory, bloodthirsty, and blunt, and chock full of toilet humor. But it sneaks in plenty of education when the kid isn’t looking – kind of like hiding spinach in a delicious smoothie.

This excellent video from Horrible Histories is an absolute delight. It’s a short biography of Charles Dickens, plenty peppy enough to amuse kids and make them laugh. But there’s a ton here for an adult to enjoy, too – like the fact that the video and song are clearly a tongue-in-cheek take-off on Morrissey and the Smiths (and sounds very much like a hybrid of “This Charming Man” and “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”. The lyrics are genius and cracked me up:

Little Dorrit is a tale about my dad in debtor’s jail, while Hard Times tells my life, ’bout when I tried to leave my wife…”


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