Thursday, January 24, 2008

How Underwear Got Under There: A Brief History

Shaskan, Kathy. 2007. HOW UNDERWEAR GOT UNDER THERE: A BRIEF HISTORY. Ill. By Regan Dunnick. New York: Dutton. ISBN 9780525471783 [Suggested Grade Levels 4–7]

With a book flap festooned with tiny underwear, bras and panties that reads “I see London, I see France, here’s a book about UNDERPANTS!” what young reader could resist this “brief history”? Humorous illustrations coupled with straightforward text make the book factual enough to write a report, funny enough to warrant reading from cover to cover, and subtle enough to keep readers from blushing – maybe!

Shaskin divides the history of underwear into chapters detailing the why, what and how of this most unmentionable subject. Protection, warmth, modesty, cleanliness, support, shaping, exaggeration, status, making a statement, and future undies are chapter topics too intriguing to pass up. Exaggeration? Using one’s underwear to exaggerate body parts has probably not occurred to this book’s target reader, and the concept of a codpiece will no doubt enlighten. “By the time King Henry VIII came along, the codpiece was padded to enormous proportions and even decorated with jewels!” This visually appealing choice will engage, entertain, and educate readers.

Readers could search for other historical references to underclothes, and discuss which they think are most outrageous and which they would most dislike wearing.

Other fun books about unmentionables:
Goodman, Susan E. THE TRUTH ABOUT POOP. ISBN 0670036749
Harper, Charise Mericle. FLUSH!: THE SCOOP ON POOP THROUGHOUT THE AGES. ISBN 9780316010641

By Tammy Korns

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