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The non fiction books in this section all have a theme of conservation, raising environmental awareness and/or championing green issues.
Have you ever wondered how a forest gets started? With huge trees growing up close and dense undergrowth covering the ground, their scale is so mighty that it is hard to think that they could ever have been small. Are they man made? Did an enormous giant or a massive business enterprise put them there? In a gentle and elegant story matched by simple, evocative illustrations Who Makes a Forest? helps children explore the multi-faceted ecosystem that sustains the many forests that cover so much of the earth’s surface. From the soil, made from the decay left by tiny clinging plants such as lichen and the insects that feed on them, through the first flowers that grow in that soil and the butterflies and bees and birds that feed off them to the massive trees and shrubs that we see today all stages of forest growth are covered. The book ends with 5 pages of useful facts about forests.
Imbued with infectious personal passion as it shares expert information and plenty of practical guidance, Vicki Hird’s Rebugging the Planet is a brilliant book for bug-lovers of all ages and, given bugs’ vital importance to the upkeep and well-being of Planet Earth (let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the fact that bees contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen), it deserves to be enjoyed and implemented far and wide - at home, and in classrooms too. In fact, this is perfect for reading and implementing during longer holidays from school, or over the course of a term, especially chapter four which presents an extensive range of how-to ideas for re-bugging your own patch of the world. But back to the beginning. The book sets out its inspirational stall in the opening chapters by explaining all the vital things bugs do for us, among them pollinating plants, feeding birds, feeding humans, defending our food crops, cleaning our water, controlling pests, and healing us. Maggots, for example, can remove (munch) and disinfect rotting flesh, leeches can stop clots, and the honey made by bees has anti-inflammatory properties. To play a role in the author’s re-bugging initiative, readers might find themselves inspired to build a bug palace, buy bug-friendly food from bug-buddy farmers, and much more. This is packed with plenty of ways to live a bug-better life, which in turn means living on a better planet.
The Magic of Exploring the Outdoors After Dark | Calling all outdoor adventurers who want to walk on the wild side by the light of the moon! While there’s no shortage of brilliant books to inspire and guide nature exploration in young adventurers, Chris Salisbury’s Wild Nights Out is the first nature guide to focus on night-time activities, which gives both the book and its activities a distinct and decidedly magical edge. With a foreword by Chris Packham, this is a brilliant book for grown-ups to use with 7+-year-olds who share their passion for the great outdoors. The text addresses adults, as opposed to chattily speaking to children direct, but with a background in theatre and environmental education, and currently working as professional storyteller alongside directing the Call of the Wild Foundation programme for educators-in-training, the author is well-placed to advise on how to engage young explorers. As for the activities, the book covers a blend of games, walks and sensory experiences, the latter of which form an excellent foundation from which to explore the world at night, with exercises designed to focus and enhance one’s sensory perceptions. Then there are practical activities covering the likes of learning to call for owls, detect bats and understand the night sky alongside immersive theatrical activities, such as hosting nocturnal animal performances and fireside storytelling. With black-and-white illustrations throughout and activities to last the entire summer holidays, this certainly shines an inspiring and informative light on night-time nature.
Let’s face it, learning to recycle and understand why it’s so important is just about the most important life skill there is right now, so congratulations to Sunbird Books for this bright, engaging board book which explains recycling simply to the very young. Over five jolly spreads, we follow the progress of a tin can all the way from the green bin on its journey from rubbish to shiny, new recycled tin. The text is short, perfectly geared for little ones, and fun to read, and the illustrations are lively with lots to spot and name. A spinning wheel (watch those tins drop into the recycling lorry) and a surprise pull out tab at the end add to the fun. Essential reading for budding eco-warriors everywhere! There's a companion board book Go Go Eco Apple too!
Ever been asked what happens to the apple after you throw it into the green recycling bin? This book takes the very youngest on the apple core’s journey to the recycling plant and on until it is transformed into compost to help another apple tree to grow. In board book format, this is perfect for the very youngest children. The text is simple but stimulating, and the pictures clear and bright, full of things to spot, name and count. Added treats like a spinning wheel so that you can drop the apples into the compost bin, and a pull up tab to reveal the new tree, make it even more satisfying. Fun, informative and engaging, this is the perfect book for young eco-heroes. You'll also love the companion title; Go Go Eco Tin Can!
Hooray for books like this that encourage children to reuse and recycle, and turn stuff heading for the bin into something else altogether. Like the other books in this excellent series, it’s full of information and things to do, presented in a friendly and accessible way with step-by-step instructions and lots of photos. The ‘old jumper to beanie’ and tin can nightlight will be favourites in many houses but there’s lots to appeal and, best of all, everything can be re-recycled afterwards so that nothing goes to landfill. Guaranteed to keep children occupied and happy and to get them thinking about how we live and how much we throw away too.
Winner of the Wainwright Prize for UK Nature Writing 2020 | Winner of the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards for Non-Fiction | Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2020 | Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2020 | Diary of a Young Naturalist recounts a year in the life of an autistic and highly gifted 15 year old, struggling with school, bullies, moving house and fearing the decline of the natural world whilst rejoicing in it. Dara McAnulty is clearly an extraordinary person and a beautiful and mature writer. His descriptions of his adventures in nature are inspiring for children, but also sure to brighten the souls of many an adult too. The intensity with which nature presents itself to the author is overwhelming, and his ability to share this with the reader is enthralling. It’s a rollercoaster ride being in the head of this young man, but the book has the magic to open our eyes and ears to what beauty is around us each and every day - if only we looked! McAnulty's knowledge of wildlife and nature is simply extraordinary. His autism is a burden but also a super-power, providing him with piercing insight to a world that simply cannot be ignored with all its truth, tragedy and hope pouring out of every hedgerow, pond and dry stone wall. This is a diary which highlights our essential connection with the natural world, the landscape and our history embedded within it - but more importantly, it is also about our futures. Dara McAnulty is on a mission, and if the quality of this book is anything to go by, he will have a huge impact. For many children, this book will be the beginning of a wondrous journey. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Packed full of illustrations, exciting experiments - and even comic strips - That's Life! encourages young scientists to start looking for the living things around them. Life is everywhere on planet Earth. Jungles, deserts, seas, plains, fields and forests - all of them teem with life but, amazingly, you can also find lots of living things hidden in your home, and even hidden inside you!
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Until approximately 100 years ago wolves had roamed freely in Yellowstone Park and their existence had shaped the eco-system of that vast expanse of wilderness. But, over the years, hunters killed off the wolves and everything in Yellowstone Park began to change. Elk took over the valleys eating everything they could so many plant species disappeared, bears went hungry and many of the familiar birds flew away. Yellow stone Park was changed! A plan was hatched to put wolves back into the habit making sure that their arrival would only do good. It was complex and daring but, once it had been carried off, fourteen wolves began a new life and the ecology of Yellowstone Park began to change again… Catherine Barr tells most of the story as narrative non-fiction which brings the environment and the animals vividly to life. Further facts are added in an additional, fact-filled section. Jenni Desmond’s illustrations evoke the wild and mysterious background of Yellowstone Park perfectly.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2021 | A beautiful picture book full of fascinating illustrations that repay hours of close looking, this is also an astonishing fact-filled tour of the amazing five oceans on our planet. Using the turtle as a guide, Catherine Barr gives readers an introduction to the importance of all the oceans to everyone and then looks closely at the special features of each of the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Southern Oceans. Here, and in all the further spreads which cover How Oceans Work, Ocean Habitats and Ocean Wonders before a final, heartful section on Save Our Seas, Barr presents all the information in brief, carefully written paragraphs which convey enough to be wholly satisfying without overwhelming readers with too much information. The whole is an inspiring and beautiful book which also carries an important conservation message.
Everyone loves an activity book, especially one as clever and appealing as this one. It’s packed with an excellent array of puzzles and activities, just right for rainy days, long journeys or boring afternoons. But all these spot the differences, quizzes, mazes and memory tests have an eco-theme, which makes solving them not only particularly satisfying, but even more of a brain-expanding exercise. Through fun activities, they’ll make you think about how to reuse and recycle, explain how conservationists are working to save the orangutans, and test your ability to turn leftovers into tasty meals. Within all the different challenges are hands-on-tips to help the planet, and they all demonstrate too that if we work together, we’ll solve the challenge of climate change that much quicker. Who’d have thought the simple activity book could be so inspiring?
Filled with breath-taking double-page spreads, this beautiful picture book not only encourages children to stretch, uncurl and spread wide like a tree, it demonstrates how very similar we are (Your skin is bark/protecting what’s within), and shows how our good health is mutually dependant. Glowing illustrations depict a variety of trees, viewed from different angles and perspectives, but always centre stage while human beings, often tiny in comparison, walk or play underneath or climb the branches. The text doesn’t say it outright – it doesn’t need to – but this is a depiction of the world as it should be, one of harmony and community, where we are all reaching for the sun. There’s so much to enjoy and so much to wonder at and learn; the final pages feature facts and information about trees, their anatomy as well as what you can do to help them, and instruct readers too on how to be a tree in their community. This is one of those books that makes you see the world differently.
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