What Is the Story of? Series

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
What Is the Story of? Series Book Poster Image
Surprisingly deep, interesting look at beloved characters.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

These books are a detailed look at some of the most popular characters in pop culture, but delve well past the superficial into the historical events and creative efforts it took to bring the phenomenon to life.

Positive Messages

Series focuses on the ways characters, shows, and artists contributed to society as a whole and had an impact far beyond magazines, malls, and television.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the topics of the books are fictional characters, the real stars on the pages are the artists and entrepreneurs who brought them to life.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the What Is the Story of? series is more than meets the eye. Anyone picking up a book about Scooby-Doo will learn not only about the evolution of the characters and the social impact of the cartoon, but also the worldwide events that shaped the characters' development. The Hello Kitty book is as much about Japanese culture and product development as it is about documenting the tiny feline phenom. The books are surprisingly dense with facts while still being really fun to read, and the focus on the characters' creators reminds readers of their own potential to make their mark on the world.

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What's the story?

Related to the Who Is?, Where Is?, and What Is? series, the WHAT IS THE STORY OF? series gives readers a detailed look at some of the most beloved characters to captivate societies for decades. Longevity is key here; each book reviews the long history of the character in context with global events, technological breakthroughs, and social movements over decades. Each book has a bibliography and a fold-out, glossy timeline of events at the end, and sidebars throughout the book give details related to the main topic.

Is it any good?

Like the related series, this one is packed with details that go well beyond the focus of each book but stay grounded in the topic. A look at how Hello Kitty came into being includes information about Japanese society in the mid-20th century, business and social customs, and more. These books are much more than meets the eye, and have a fabulous level of detail for both young readers and adults. There's a lot here to catch the interest of reluctant readers, and more than enough new vocabulary and facts for proficient readers with a variety of interests.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what happened in the world that helped make the character such a success. How long did the creators work before the characters were so beloved?

  • What do you love about the character?

  • What details did you learn about the character that you didn't know before?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

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