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Via simple but elegant illustrations, and a gentle sometimes playful rhyming text, this picture book passes on all sorts of information about water and its importance, while never losing the sense of the beauty of this essential element. Words and illustrations take us back in time to the beginning of life on Earth, up hills and deep below the surface to explain that “clouds, rain, river, sea, water cycles endlessly”. Carefully placed splashes of colour underscore pages of different blues, the tinkling rhythm of the text bringing a sense of calm. It all concludes with five fascinating facts about the “world wide wet” and this is a book to savour on lots of different levels.
July 2018 Book of the Month | This clearly written visually stunning book will have children jumping in to learn all about a wide variety of topics – history, nature, science, medicine, even philosophy: who’d have thought that holes could contain so much? They are a passion of the author and his enthusiasm spills onto the pages. Whether he’s looking at natural holes, manmade holes, holes in humans (mouth, nose, eyes, bottom), or the ways holes have been described in maths and philosophy, the information presented is fascinating and often dramatic. The painterly illustrations match the text for depth, and are often quite beautiful to look at. Like the best non-fiction, this is full of answers but will leave readers ready to ask more questions.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2018 | A stunning and original book and a useful one too. Subtitled ‘A Celebration of Nature’s Greatest Show-offs’ in glorious pictures it introduces over 600 different plants grouped together under all kinds of headings. There are some nice indoor plants under the heading ‘Air-fresheners’, a dramatic spread of ‘The Magical’ and some beautiful spreads of ‘The Ornamentals’. It’s a book that will whet any child’s interest in plants and excite them about the very many possibilities that they offer. There’s a useful index for helping readers revisit some of the amazing plants that have caught their eye. ~ Julia Eccleshare Julia Eccleshare's Picks of the Month for May 2018 Square by Mac Barnett A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge A Perfect Day by Lane Smith Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes & James Mayhew Wonder Goal! by Michael Foreman The Sand Dog by Sarah Lean The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell Plantopedia by Adrienne Barman
This robust, beautifully illustrated board book is a great way to teach young children about nature, and will also boost their vocabulary. Themed under headings such as gardens and parks; feathers, eggs and nests; and rocks and gems, the pages feature an array of birds, animals, insects and plants, all clearly illustrated and labelled. Many will be familiar to UK children, the little wren for example, branch of ivy, or dandelion clock, while others are more exotic – the Baobab tree, or Arctic fox. Each page, each object is lovely to look at and provides so much to spot and discuss. ~ Andrea Reece
Award-winning author and illustrator Debi Gliori obviously loves the Hebrides and shows readers just what is so special about these rugged islands in this beautiful picture book. In the guise of an alphabet book she takes readers exploring in the company of a girl, a boy and their dog. The three play by burns, tramp through fields of cotton grass, sit by the kyle until the sun slips into the sea. All sorts of birds and wildlife are spotted, all at home in the stunning scenery which is represented in glowing watercolour illustrations. Children and adults alike will love poring over the pictures, soaking up the atmosphere and spotting details. A book to treasure, it should prove a huge boost to the Hebdridean tourist industry too!
March 2018 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Graphic novel, information book, horticultural history, A Big Garden is beautiful to look at, totally original and rather remarkable. Beginning in May, it takes readers through the year in a garden, above and below ground, describing the extraordinary amount of activity that goes on, the actions not just of the gardeners but of the plants and insects too. Detailed passages of text are full of information, e.g. listing all a gardener must do to protect his crops in June, describing the amazing methods that plants have evolved to protect themselves against threats. At times it’s philosophical – ‘put simply, gardening is all about interpreting the future and overcoming the unforeseeable’ – at other times poetic – a gardener ‘always has his hands in the soil, and looks up to the sky’. The illustrations are equally inspiring and attention-grabbing, vividly naturalistic paintings of fruit and plants set against fantastic scenes in which miniature gardeners toil away. Beautiful and inspiring, it’s a book to treasure. ~ Andrea Reece
Whether you want to learn about different bugs, find out how to spot insects, or take part in creepy-crawly inspired activities to brighten up a wet day, this We’re Going on a Bear Hunt inspired guide will get you going. It’s full of information about the bugs that share our gardens, parks and houses, and those that live by rivers or in woods. There are four pages of stickers so that you can record what you’ve seen, and lots of suggestions for fun bug-related things to do both in the house and outside. Clearly and attractively laid out, it’s very accessible for children and great both for school projects and fun family days out. ~ Andrea Reece
In a nutshell: magic, friendship, adventure Like a crisp layer of new snow in sunshine, Alex Bell’s novel sparkles with excitement and adventure. In the tradition of fairytale heroes Stella is an orphan, brought up by the explorer who discovered her abandoned as a baby. Though she looks like a snow queen with her white hair and blue eyes, Felix and his relaxed, happy upbringing have given her a warm heart, something that turns out to be very important. Stella longs to be an explorer too and, against the strict rules of the Explorers Club, Felix takes her on a trip to the Icelands; but it’s when she and three other children are separated from the grown-ups that the adventure really begins. Can Stella, Shay, Beanie and awful Ethan make discoveries, and make it home? The setting is magical, the cast of characters hugely appealing and the chain of adventures that befall them thrilling. This well-written, charming and imaginative adventure story is highly recommended. Andrea Reece
Poems that span the globe encouraging all readers to look at the good and the bad aspects of it make this a rich and original anthology. Twinning the themes of the wonders of the world and the horrors of how we despoil it means that the poems are both celebratory and angry. That leads to an interesting contradictions of styles and moods. Piet Grobler’s vibrant illustrations bring the feel of different countries to life. ~ Julia Eccleshare
Shortlisted for the UKLA 2018 Book Award | Detailed, ingenious and graphically beautiful this information book opens, as the best do, with an invitation to young readers to stop and wonder as they’re asked to think about what is going on beneath their feet. No ordinary book but a fold-out poster in book form, opening out the pages reveals a huge vertical panorama that takes us down through the different layers and right into the very core of the Earth. Friendly but information-rich text explains the features of the different layers, from the pipes and wires that support our civilisation to old bones, underground rivers, coal mines. The reverse side of the poster takes up back up through the magma, then seams of minerals, limestone, fossils and finally back into the light, this time countryside rather than city street. This beautiful book will expand readers’ knowledge and understanding and inspire them to think more about our planet.
The most innovative approach to non-fiction since Horrible Histories, the What On Earth Wallbooks present information in a way guaranteed to inspire children’s curiosity and to stimulate real enthusiasm for learning. Each one contains a full-colour poster – 2 metres long – that illustrates the complete historical timeline of its subject. The Nature Timeline shows children the history of life on Earth, from the first signs of life 4 billion years ago to the start of the 21st century. By cross-sectioning time, the Wallchart gives children a comprehensive view of what is happening across the Earth as the centuries pass, in the oceans, and on the land. A separate timeline across the top illustrates the changes to Earth’s landmasses as the continents gradually form. Illustrations are accompanied by equally informative captions and there’s longer reading too in the form of spoof newspaper articles and letters to the editor. Billions of years of history at a glance! ~ Andrea Reece These wallbooks are an amazing feat of publishing. The Nature Timeline shows the complete story of natural history in 1,000 species on a 2.4 metre-long timeline beginning with the formation of the Earth to the latest breakthroughs in evolutionary science. Perfect for younger readers but also relevant to all ages, this comprehensive, accessible and versatile wallbook is the first ever attempt to illustrate the entire history of nature and natural science on a single piece of paper. In addition to the Wallbook, The Nature Timeline also includes a Chronicle which features more than 30 newspaper stories and a quiz.