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Ancient Rome and Pompeii: Magic Tree House Research Guide    by Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Boyce & Sal Murdocca order for
Ancient Rome and Pompeii
by Mary Pope Osborne
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce give readers nonfiction research guides to their books in The Magic Tree House series. In Ancient Rome and Pompeii, a companion to Vacation Under the Volcano, the authors begin with the legend of Romulus and Remus, sliding into the true beginnings of what became known as the Eternal City.

Illustrations by Sal Murdocca display ancient landmarks and sculpture, including a woodcut of a Roman trade ship and figures of Roman gladiators. These are described in black and white photos, and sketches - including a map of the Roman Empire, and surviving architecture (such as the ruins of the Colosseum and the Pantheon temple).

Rome was founded over 3,000 years ago, and its conquering Empire expanded to include Italy, Greece, Britain, as well as most of western Europe. Citizens were divided into patricians, plebeians, and slaves. The Romans invented concrete, aqueducts as a water-delivery system, and the public Baths of Caracalla. These baths contained both cold and warm water, heated by furnaces called hypocausts.

Famous personages involved with the Roman Empire and studied to this day include: Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt; Boudicca, queen of the Iceni tribe in Britain; and Emperor Nero who ruled from 37-68 A.D.. In 79 A.D. Mt. Vesuvius, a dormant volcano, erupted and destroyed the city of Pompeii.

The authors are thorough in their coverage of the history of the Roman Empire. They also write of topics like garments and jewelry, roads built, and the Latin language, with sidebars by series' historians Annie and Jack. A guide to further research sources includes books, videos, and Internet sites.

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