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Books about animals, birds and all living things, their habitat and our world
With a short, simple but often lyrical text, and through striking, beautiful illustrations, Moth tells the story of the peppered moth, and through that explains evolution and describes the changing landscapes of our world. The peppered moth provides a perfect example of natural selection: some moths are born with speckled wings, some are charcoal black. The speckled markings are most effective as camouflage when moths are resting on pale tree branches, but as the Industrial Revolution begins and trees are covered in sooty deposits from factories and chimneys, suddenly the black moths do better and their numbers rise. Then, as laws are passed to reduce pollution and the air clears, the situation is reversed again, and the number of speckled moths increases. Not only does this encapsulate natural evolution, it also reminds us of nature’s resilience and offers hope for the future. The final line encourages children to go out and observe moths for themselves, something this book will surely inspire them to do.
This book offers a fun and quirky introduction to famous artists, writers and scientists, via their pets. We learn a great deal about Sigmund Freud for example through the story of his beloved chow chow Jofi, who was present in his owner’s famous treatment rooms for seven years. Similarly, it’s much easier to identify with Isaac Newton once you know about his little dog, Diamond, or Henri Matisse as you learn about his cats Minouche, Coussi and la Puce. Some of the pets of course are interesting in their own right too – the crocodiles Dorothy Parker kept in her bath, or Charles Dickens’ talking raven Grip, who stars in Barnaby Rudge and also inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven. There are full page illustrations of each pet and owner and opposite a page of lively, accessible information about the pair and their relationship. Unusual, handsomely illustrated and inspiring.
Here’s a great book for young shark aficianados, full of facts, figures and neatly presented information. Written by experts Duncan Brake and Jillian Morris, founder of Sharks4Kids, it introduces fourteen different types of shark, from everyone’s favourite (surely?) the great white, to lesser known but equally extraordinary creatures such as the swell shark, which can glow in the dark, and the cookie cutter shark, with its jutting teeth. Mixing illustration with photos and making good use of fact boxes, the book also emphasises the importance of conservation, setting up young people to be successful advocates for these endlessly fascinating creatures.
This little paperback does much more than it says on the tin. It encourages young readers to explore the outdoors (whether that’s via a ramble in the countryside, a trip to the local park or picnic in the garden) and shows them how to make the most of it by using their powers of observation and imagination. It asks you really look around and note what you can see, whether plants, insects or birds, and then to make sketches or maps of where you are. More, it encourages readers to make up stories and also includes short descriptions of famous people who found inspiration in the outside world, from Beatrix Potter to Claude Monet. It really should make young people see and think differently about the natural world around them, and packs in a great deal of information and stimulation.
We first met Mrs Noah in Mrs Noah’s Pockets whilst the family were all on the Ark. Now the Ark has made land and whilst Noah makes the Ark into a home, Mrs Noah sets about planting a garden in the fresh new earth. Her always deep pockets furnish all the seeds needed for the job, the ark provides the trees they have nurtured along the way and she enlists the children to help her tend the new garden. A deceptively simple story –it is in the illustrations that we see the development of the garden as the pictures move from a dark rocky palette, to a more organised series of garden terraces, with colour gradually growing in each spread as we progress through the book – until at last we have a wonderful explosion of plants and animals for all the birds, bees and humans to share. A wonderful celebration of the joys of planting and growing, I can see it being used to seed discussions around how you might create a garden – in school or at home. Plus, as the publisher points out, it provides a positive way of encouraging discussion around migrants and refugees – as Mrs Noah and her family build a new home in a foreign land. I can see this becoming a firm favourite in classrooms all over the country.
Discover a troop of kangaroos, an ambush of tigers, a rafter of turkeys, and a flotilla of swordfish in this glorious introduction to the animal kingdom from internationally acclaimed artist Brian Wildsmith. A lion yawns lazily in the grass. Curious giraffes crane their long necks. Step into this rich world of animals from an extraordinary illustrator whose work influenced generations of younger artists. Each animal's essence is strikingly captured, from the playfulness of otters to a noisy gathering of parrots, while panoramic pictures give a real sense of the animals' habitats. Collective nouns -- some familiar, others wonderfully surprising -- are used to describe each group of animals. Brian Wildsmith's stunning illustrations will inspire a love of nature and a respect for animals from the earliest age.
June 2020 Book of the Month | Joint winner of UKLA Award 7-11 Category 2018 | Know all there is to know about those big-name animals? Elephants, zebras, pandas? Time to discover some lesser-spotted creatures, animals who don’t get the same attention but are just as fascinating. Take the Feathertail Glider for example, possibly the cutest thing in the known universe; or the handsome, rarely seen Ribbon Seal; or the giant kangaroo rat, which can leap two metres and change direction in a second, but is still endangered. Martin ‘Horrible Histories illustrator’ Brown introduces us to twenty-one little known but amazing animals, and readers’ lives will be all the better for it. His descriptions are full of information, but also often very funny, and his illustrations so good you can practically smell his subjects. A great book for anyone who loves wild animals, and for anyone looking for incredible facts to dumbfound friends and family.
Dynamic and visually appealing, this book inspires young people to think, not only about the planet and the impact that humanity is having upon it, but also about the ways in which we treat each other. Covering a wide range of the sort of issues that young people are likely to be most concerned about, such as climate change, pollution, animal welfare, gender equality, social justice, homelessness and hunger. Each graphically striking double spread introduces a topic and the issues of concern in a lively and accessible way. Then it introduces the young activists that are making a difference around the world. Greta Thunberg is obviously there in several sections, but over 80 young change-makers from all around the globe are featured. Then there are the pages which suggest ways in which the reader can get involved right now. How they can change their own behaviour and how they can impact upon their home and school. It even has ideas for potential eco-businesses. At the end of the book there is a really comprehensive listing of where to find these featured activists as well as organisations, books, media and websites. There is also very welcome advice on maintaining your own safety and wellbeing – the “Don’t feed the trolls” page of advice for example. A comprehensive index and glossary of terms completes this no-nonsense, non-patronising call to arms. Full of useful information and fascinating life stories this will undoubtedly be regularly picked up by the young readers it is aimed at.
This bright, inspiring information book shows just how fascinating bugs are and will convince even the most die-hard creepy-crawly-phobe that they’re lovable. Lively double-page spreads feature a range of familiar insects including bees, worms, ants, spiders and grasshoppers and then via attractive cartoon-style illustration and integrated text tells us all sorts of facts about their bodies and lives. Some of it is vital statistics-stuff but there are some amazing facts too. Did you know that worms have up to five hearts, or that snails are deaf? Children will absorb a great deal of information and the bugs themselves are given real character by Matt Robertson in his illustrations. Fun, informative and a great introduction to non-fiction books.
Wherever we live, there are birds all around us and this beautifully illustrated book will enable readers to identify them and is also full of facts and information about the way our native birds live. It features 140 different birds, each one is illustrated in colour and alongside a paragraph of text are fact boxes with bullet point information on size, habitat, food and the bird’s song. It’s a good size to pop into a bag on a trip to the country or local park, or even to take out into the garden, but will make for many happy hours of browsing indoors too. Just the sort of book to inspire a life-long interest in birds. Congratulations too to Kate McLelland whose screen print illustrations of the birds are stunning.
Young children are by nature curious about the world and how everything works, and this highly visual and beautifully designed picture book wonderfully explains some difficult scientific concepts by putting them in the context first of animals and nature and then of daily human lives. It also highlights how much of our learning comes from our senses and the challenge which Invisible Nature takes on so brilliantly is to explain things that we cannot see, feel, touch, hear or smell and yet which are a fundamental part of our everyday life. These include electromagnetism, microwaves, ultrasound, infrasound, ultra- violet and scents ( those that are beyond human perception but not that of an ant or an albatross) The author has declared her passion for presenting ‘ big issues for small people’ and the clarity of the text is well matched here by the colourful and detailed illustrations and page designs which engage and lead the eye through the explanation. One of the most fascinating images is at the end of the book where we see a human body and the impacts upon it of these invisible forces and you can see that some things pass through the body completely undetected – cosmic microwaves, radio waves and electromagnetism from the Earth. The reader will be awed and inspired to learn, for example, about ultra violet lichen which enable reindeer to find food in the dark Arctic winter or the magnetic map that migratory birds hold in their heads or be terrified by piranhas’ use of infrared to detect prey in murky waters. While the use of ultrasound by bats may be familiar it had certainly not occurred to this reader that this was how automatic doors function. This brilliant and enticing information book will attract a wide readership and certainly deserves a place in every library.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2020 | March 2020 Book of the Month | The wonder of nature and in particular the growth cycle of a tiny seed are beautifully captured in Britta Teckentrup’s luminous illustrations and simple text which, more widely, celebrates finding your own way in the world whoever you are. What happens when one tiny seed takes a long time to get growing? It soon discovers that the faster growing seeds have taken all the space and light. Undaunted, and guarded first by ant and ladybird and later by more and more creatures of the woodlands, the tiny seed begins its own journey seeking out spaces that enable it to flourish and fulfil its potential. It’s a joy to dwell on the illustrations and to let message sink in.
Read this book and you will see flowers with quite different eyes. That’s its intention, as laid out in the introduction, and one it achieves quite brilliantly. Seventeen flowers are featured, most familiar to us all (dandelion, thistle, poppy, marigold), full colour, full page illustrations opposite a page of text. The text gives us size and appearance, where the plant grows, but also includes bits of history and folklore plus information on medicinal properties and how the plant has been used to heal over the centuries. Fascinating stuff, and you get a strong sense of the author’s expertise and enthusiasm. The illustrations are just as special, stylized, folk-art inspired images of the flowers with figures or birds and insects. Beautiful and mind-expanding.
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