children, history

So You Want to be a Roman Soldier?


Author: Georgia Amson-Bradshaw
Illustrator: Takayo Akiyama
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 978-0-500-65183-4
Pages: 96
Price: $14.95

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If you’ve dreamed of being powerful, earning lots of money, traveling the world, and retiring rich, the life of a Roman soldier might be for you. But are you sure you really want to be a Roman soldier? This handy illustrated guide shows kids exactly what’s involved in this dangerous warrior life.

Kate, Eddie, and Angus are in a museum, looking at the display on ancient Rome. Soon they are transported back in time to the year 100, and are advised by Junia, who explains what they can expect if they really want to be Roman soldiers. First they’ll need to fill out their application form, pass the entrance exam, and take the military oath. Military gear needs to be selected and cleaned carefully, along with their weapons. Finally they’ll need to decide on joining the cavalry, the auxilia, the navy, or the Praetorian guard. Avoiding punishment and knowing their enemies will be useful skills to ensure survival on military campaigns.

The Roman military life comes alive in this tongue-in-cheek look at how to be a Roman soldier. I found it highly entertaining, and it will be a big hit with kids – especially boys – who will enjoy the gruesome humor. (Spoiler alert: yes, there are cartoon severed body parts and smelly things.) I highly recommend So You Want to be a Roman Soldier?

Reviewer: Alice Berger