Over the past couple of years, Templar Books (an imprint of Candlewick) has issued a series of stunning oversized biographies of some the great figures in history. Hardcover, copiously (COPIOUSLY) illustrated and full of foldouts, small envelopes and all manner of intriguing bits packaged in intriguing ways, the Historical Notebooks series includes William Shakespeare: His Life and Times, Marco Polo: History's Great Adventurer, Charles Dickens: England's Most Captivating Storyteller, Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure and Cleopatra: Queen of Egypt. Written by several different talented authors, these titles provide all the basic information a teen reader could want (and need) but the design places them so far over the top that readers of any age (including adults) will find them difficult to ignore. Each page offers something more pleasing than the previous with extracts from original texts plus facsimiles of old magazines, drawings, maps, letters, tapestries even (!!) spread out wide or alternately carefully placed within the text. This is food for the brain and the eye, titles to enjoy on so many levels that one feels almost surprised to be pouring over historical texts in such an avid manner. (Personally I can't get enough of old maps and letters so these are a real treat for me.) Behind the cut, feast your eyes on some of the interiors and see what you are missing.
From William Shakespeare:
From Marco Polo: