NONFICTION

Jonas Hanway’s Scurrilous, Scandalous, Shockingly Sensational Umbrella

Page Street. May 2020. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781624148859.
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K-Gr 4–Jonas Hanway, an English philanthropist, disliked getting wet. But in rainy 1750 London, there was scarcely a way to walk a short distance and remain dry without paying for a horse-drawn coach. For untold reasons, Hanway traveled to Persia (or present-day Iran) and saw people holding umbrellas in the sun. Though the text notes that people had been using umbrellas for centuries, even in France, Londonites had never adopted the tool until Hanway introduced it to his fellow countrymen. Despite the efforts to thwart Hanway and his umbrella, the gadget caught on and the English use them to this day. Back matter includes brief overviews of other topics Hanway disliked, some of which stuck around (English tea) and others that were thankfully disbanded (children chimney sweeps) either in spite of or with some thanks to Hanway speaking out against them. A brief history of umbrellas throughout the world and in popular culture, as well as a bibliography, round out this title.
VERDICT A serviceable addition to collections looking for fact-based picture books or light information titles about specific places or topics.

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