The Great and the Terrible

The World's Most Glorious and Notorious Rulers and How They Got Their Names


By Joanne O’Sullivan

Illustrated by Udayana Lugo

Formats and Prices




$22.99 CAD



  1. Hardcover $17.99 $22.99 CAD
  2. ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around September 15, 2020. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

This fun, quirky, and engaging fully illustrated history anthology features twenty-five amazing and terrifying rulers for middle grade readers to discover.

We’ve heard of Alexander the Great. We’ve heard of Ivan the Terrible. But what was so Great about Alexander? What was so Terrible about Ivan? Spanning centuries of history in a culturally diverse framework-from ancient India to nineteenth-century Hawaii, and with a balanced focus on notorious women rulers as well as male, The Great and the Terrible takes a humorous look at some of the most glorious and notorious figures in history through the lens of the nicknames they’re remembered by.

While some of the characters mentioned here are more prominent in world history (Cyrus the Great introduced the world’s first human rights charter), others are well known only within their own cultures. The Great and the Terrible gives middle-grade readers an opportunity to dip into the breadth of world history, sampling its cultural diversity and its stranger-than-fiction historical exploits, with a mix of the sensational and the serious. It helps to correct the imbalance in many history books that currently only focus on Western Civilization, shining the spotlight on achievements (and foibles) in many different cultures.


  • "Broad of scope and chock full of juicy role models and anti-models."
    Kirkus Reviews
  • "Young people intrigued by the lives of historical figures will devour this."
  • "This amusing, colorful anthology provides an overview of some of history's most beloved and most notorious rulers.... A strong addition to middle school libraries and nonfiction collections for youth."
    School Library Journal

On Sale
Sep 15, 2020
Page Count
176 pages
Running Press Kids

Joanne O’Sullivan

About the Author

Joanne O’Sullivan lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. Her debut novel, Between Two Skies (Candlewick, 2017) has been, among other accolades, a Southern Book Prize finalist, a Texas Lone Star pick, an ABA Best Book for Young Readers 2018, a NYPL recommended read, a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year 2018, a JLG selection, and earned a triple crown of starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and Shelf Awareness. She has experience as a nonfiction writer for the children’s market also, as she was previously writer-for-hire on a trio of books produced by Charlesbridge: 101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12, 101 Things You Gotta Do Before You’re 12 and 101 Ways You Can Help Save the Planet Before You’re 12.

History is Joanne’s passion, and she was excited to bring a new way of looking at the great figures of the past to young readers today, particularly in terms of seeing a truly global past, with World history as opposed to Western history, and giving credit to the astonishing breadth of great (and terrible!) men and women from many cultures who’ve left their imprints on our world today.

Udayana Lugo was born in Russia, but grew up in Mexico City. She can’t remember a time when she was not drawing. She studied product design in Mexico, and did her masters in Italy. Life took her back to Mexico, then to the UK, and finally to Vancouver, Canada, where she currently resides with her husband and two kids.

Learn more about this author