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Children enjoy thinking about people of the past, and especially enjoy all the bits that are gory, nasty or just plain mad (that’s why Horrible Histories is so popular)! Whether it's the Great Fire of London, The Stone Age, or WW2 here are a selection of books for every lover of history.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month June 2021 | This book covers the global history of protest from 1170 BCE, when workers on the pyramids in Egypt went on strike for more food, to the present day, with the school strikes for climate. From the women's march in Rome, through the peasants' revolt, the abolitionist movement and the suffragette movement right through to Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter. Also included are the Native American Ghost Dance, the Abolitionist Movement, Women's Suffrage Movement, anti-nuclear movement, the Stonewall riots, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Arab Spring, Hong Kong umbrella protests and much more. The book covers civil rights, women's rights, LGBTQI+ rights, anti-apartheid, environmental campaigns and more. It also looks at creative ways of protesting - theatrical interventions, singing protests, guerrilla gardening, tree-sitting, noisy protests and surreal happenings.
In this excellent series, Professor Ben Garrod tells the story of life on Earth through the history of creatures caught up in one of the various mass extinction events, and if that sounds counter-intuitive, it works brilliantly. This book looks at the End Permian, aka the Great Dying, the closest we’ve ever come to completely losing all life. Only 3% of Earth’s marine species survived and trilobites, despite being one of the most successful groups of animals ever, weren’t among them. Though it happened 252 million years ago, Garrod describes it as though it was yesterday, mixing science and drama, and best of all, making clear the scientific discoveries and detective work that has told us what we know. An inspiring book for any young thinker and a must have for young paleontologists.
Winner of Book of the Year, Children's: Illustrated and Non-Fiction at The British Book Awards | Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2020 | When did Africans first come to Britain? Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings? Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution? These and many other questions are answered in this essential introduction to 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian's Wall right up to the present day.
Adapted for a younger readership from the author’s celebrated adult book of the same name, this illustrated history of the Silk Roads, bound in a majestic gold and blue package, is the perfect present for fledging historians. The book’s journey leads armchair adventurers along thrilling, far-reaching roads, taking in the history of ancient Persia, Constantinople, Rome, Attila the Hun, the emergence of Islam, Viking slavery, Genghis Khan, Columbus - and more - from a holistic perspective. “You might even think of the Silk Roads as the world’s central nervous system, linking all the organs of the body together”, the author suggests in the introduction, and his engaging exploration of the interplay between politics, science, religion and trade certainly gives this book far greater tang than your standard textbook. Indeed, generously spiced with exquisite illustrations and maps that inform as they enthrall, young history buffs will undoubtedly devour this pitch-perfect treasure, and grown-ups will get much from it too.
Like a small worm, but with a head and teeth, and spines, and legs, the Hallucigenia is not something most of us could identify, and no wonder: this little sea dwelling invertebrate went extinct 450 million years ago. It was the End Ordovician extinction that did for the Hallucigenia, along with 85 per cent of species living in the seas and oceans at the time. All this is explained quite brilliantly in Ben Garrod’s book, the first in his new series Extinct. By the end of the book, not only will readers know all we know about Hallucigenia (and how we’ve worked it out), but they will have a really good understanding of extinctions and the Ordovician in particular. In Garrod’s hands, this is absolutely riveting, the book is full of information and scientific ideas, made clear as can be, his inspiring text illustrated with charts and colour illustrations. This extinct worm’s-eye view of the world is exactly the thing to make us understand our planet and our place on it.
As we know, Marie Curie was a trail blazer in so many ways – a woman in science, the first woman to win Nobel Prizes, a major protagonist in the discovery of radiation and x-rays. We may know much less about her background and her family history. This graphic novel shows us just some of the many problems Marie Curie had to rise above in her native Poland - where women were not allowed at the Universities. Told through a series of panels this biography includes all the scientific discoveries in a simple, easily accessible format that exposes the dangers, as well as the advantages of radiation. The illustrations are clear with plenty of room given to the text so that is easy to read and follow. A good addition to classroom collections – and will have special appeal for those pupils who may prefer a graphic approach or be less enthusiastic readers. There is a companion graphic book from Sunbird Books, It's Her Story: Rosa Parks, the hero behind the Montgomery Bus Strike.
This short (44 pages) graphic novel on the life and impact of Rosa Parks – the woman known as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA - packs in a huge amount of information simply and clearly. The author commented she decided that It’s Her Story: Rosa Parks would celebrate a lifetime of activism versus a single moment. And that she would depict late nights, setbacks, and moments of doubt so that children … learn that while change is possible, it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to put in the work. This book does just that – it shows with commendable brevity the many sides of the struggles that Rosa and the movement in the USA faced. The story develops as a young girl is taken to see an exhibition by her grandmother – who tells her granddaughter the story of Rosa’s life. The novel is a model of brevity but which packs in the information we all need to know and remember about Rosa and her struggles. Illustrator Shane Clester has produced Graphic novels for Marvel and Nick Jnr, as well as publishing his own picture books. A book that needs to be on book shelves – not only in Black History Month. There is a companion graphic book from Sunbird Books, It's Her Story: Marie Curie, a biography of the trailblazing scientist.
A large-format non-fiction picture book that describes the incredible creatures that once walked the Earth, with a lively mix of illustrations, comics and facts. Explore the story of a spiny sea worm without tail or head, a walking fish, a peaceful sea dragon, and many other incredible creatures. Translated by Daniel Hahn
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Over one hundred years since it happened, the story of the sinking of the Titanic still grips the imagination. After all, as David Long says in this new book, ‘almost everything about [its sinking] sounded extraordinary’. Long is a Blue Peter Book Award winner and knows exactly how to describe the events to convey the facts, share the drama, and capture the effect on history. The book explains how the Titanic and her sister ships the Olympic and the Britannic, were designed to be both huge and luxurious, with details that bring this home – the ship was as long as three football pitches, there was a squash court, swimming pool and Turkish baths on its ten decks. There are human details too, such as the fact that passengers took advantage of its state-of-the-art technology to send 200 ‘Marconigrams’ from the ship to friends and family back home. Ably assisted by illustrator Stefano Tambellini, Long relates just how this extraordinary ship sank, but ends by describing the positive changes that came about as a result – new rules about lifeboats and drills, new rules for radio operators, new safety measures for ship design, all designed to prevent future tragedies. Together, it makes for a fascinating record of this unique story and remind us why the Titanic is the ship no-one can forget. Published by dyslexia specialist Barrington Stoke, this is accessible to all readers. Discover David Long's fascinating Apollo 13 space mission facts!
Written and illustrated by award-winning artist and current affairs specialist George Butler, Drawn Across Borders is a unique empathy-inspiring portrayal of the affecting personal experiences of twelve migrants, covering countries as diverse as Tajikistan, Myanmar, Kenya, Syria and Palestine. It’s an honest, awe-inspiring tribute to the featured individuals, a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and a timely reminder that real people lie behind every news story on migrants. Real people with real (and varied) reasons for leaving places they once called home. Butler frames the book with brilliant clarity: “People move around the world for many reasons. Some migration is voluntary; most is not.” The written portraits are deeply personal, framed by the author’s experiences on the frontlines of - for example - refugee camps, and based on his conversations with migrants. When combined with the accompanying painterly illustrations, they create a book that draws the heart and eye to a clutch of stories that should be known. Recommended for readers aged 11 upwards who have an interest in current affairs and history (adults included), this would also make a valuable springboard for discussing migration and global politics in a classroom context. The LoveReading LitFest invited George to the festival to talk about Drawn Across Borders. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see George in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why everyone should read this book. Check out a preview of the event here
Travel 20,000 years back in time to visit the Stone Age for a day, with Auri, a young cave-dweller, as your friendly guide. Auri is curious about everything and along with her wolf, Bones she guides you through homes, fishing and foraging for food, making a fire to cave painting and Stone Age treasures. With brilliant illustrations by Russell Punter, edited by Ruth Brocklehurst with the help of experimental archeologist Dr James Dilly, this is a beautifully presented and informative guide to all things Stone Age.
April 2021 Book of the Month | This bestseller that dominated the adult charts for some considerable number of weeks has now been adapted for younger readers losing something like 100 pages in the process. This is the life story of Michelle Obama, from her poor but happy childhood on the Southside of Chicago to her current position as an ex-First Lady of the United States. It is written in a text that flows well – and gives the reader a searingly honest view of what life was like, the struggles and triumphs of a thoughtful, driven young black woman to get to top class US universities and gain excellent qualifications from them and to find her place in the world. Her meeting with Barack and their early life before politics impinged. Then, through the stages of their political life as a family – told in such a way that it is relatively easy to understand the complex political set-up in the US (something I always find rather confusing!) The highlight for me was seeing just how much Michelle was passionate about helping young people get what they needed – a better life, better nutrition, minority recognition and a sense of self-worth – which started whilst she was in college and continues right through her story. Her love of family and dislike for partisan politics – even whilst she had to exist within the political system – give one hope for the future and those young people she helped. A very readable and accessible biography for anyone with an interest in recent US history. Highly recommended.
What a sweet book. I love the idea of thinking about Elizabeth I as a little girl, and I am sure young children will relate to the annoyance of having to get dressed, teeth scrubbed and hair brushed when they would much rather be playing or staying in bed. Rhyming books are always winners and are great for reading aloud and sharing with young children. Children will love searching for the last word in each verse. They will also love looking for the little mouse that is hiding on every page. An historical read enhanced by the informative information at the back of the book explaining the fashion and personal habits of the time. I think children will be both fascinated and repulsed by such habits as teeth cleaning with soot and being sewn into one’s clothes. The illustrations are gorgeous, rich and colourful, with wonderful attention to Tudor detail in the costumes, carpets, hangings and architecture. It is amazing how much information has been packed into this book. It is a beautiful introduction to Tudor history and simple rhyme.
March 2021 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month February 2021 | A wonderful introduction to how a modern place somewhere in the UK will have been created over the centuries, this beautiful picture book cleverly records the history of a place as it would look from the perspective of an oak tree. Oaks are famous for the exceptional number of years that they live and their permanence makes an interesting contrast to how frequently humans change the landscape. “I first was an acorn, so tiny and round,/I fell from a branch and sank into the ground./ Then as I grew up, I turned into a tree…/ over hundreds of years! So, what did I see?” Taken together, the simple rhyming text matched by beautiful and carefully detailed illustrations offer a delightful history lesson. The book ends with a useful timeline: "What was happening in the world while the oak tree grew?". It comes right up to the present with the spreading of the Covid-19 virus!
Written and illustrated with infectious verve, Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories puts paid to any notion that women’s role in science has been peripheral. In fact, despite huge impediments, and thanks to their intellect and tenacity, this inspiring book shows how women have been at the heart of many major discoveries - from finding the cure for malaria, to spearheading revolutionary DNA research, to making monumental advances in the fields of volcanology, astronomy, botany and chemistry (and more). Through an engaging blend of text, comic strips, fact boxes and diagrams, the book explores eight life-changing scientific innovators in detail. The fact that most of the scientists aren’t household names tells you everything you need to know about the importance of this book - these are innovators whose names should be known. Take Tu Youyou, for example, the Chinese chemist who spent months on a remote island researching traditional medicines in order to discover a cure for malaria, testing potentially dangerous preparations on herself - and all this against the precarious backdrop of the Cultural Revolution that saw her separated from her family and sworn to secrecy. Then there’s out-of-this-world Mae Jemison, an astoundingly multi-talented woman who grew up watching the first space missions during the Civil Rights Movement and went on to become the first African-American woman astronaut in 1992. Informative, inspiring and presented with passion and clarity, this is children’s non-fiction at its finest.
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