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February 2020 Book of the Month | Nothing is higher profile or more topical currently than concern for the planet, making this subject an excellent choice for the next topic to get the highly successful Kate Pankhurst treatment. Continuing her quest to pay tribute to the often-overlooked female pioneers in any field of human endeavour with her mission to provide accessible and engaging non- fiction, Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet does all that and more. Once again, I was struck by the fascinating and diverse choices of the featured women and girls. Some are relatively well-known: such as Anita Roddick who founded the Body Shop and Jane Goodall and her pioneering research and protection work with chimpanzees. But I had never heard of Edith Farkas who discovered the ozone hole in the Antarctic or Mária Telkes and her pioneering work on solar power. Even more inspiring is the evidence that everyone, however humble, can make a difference. Such as Isatou Geesay in the Gambia and her fight against plastic pollution or the Chipko movement in India, village women literally hugging trees to prevent the deforestation of their land and the floods and landslides which would follow. Each double-page spread has accessible paragraphs of text and lively cartoon illustrations and speech bubbles to tell the story concisely and clearly. This visual style is very engaging to young readers and has great shelf appeal. A useful glossary of terms and a page of inspiring calls to action complete the book. Another triumph of information presentation. Highly recommended.
Millions of people use the underground in London every day, but how many of them know the secrets and facts revealed in this fascinating book? Did you know, for example, that you could walk for fifteen minutes through the corridors at Bank station without going over the same steps? Or that there are 49 – 49! – abandoned and disused stations? Or that you can walk between some stations faster than the train? It concludes with various tube challenges, including the ultimate: visit all 270 stations in one day. The record for that is fifteen hours, forty-five minutes and thirty-eight seconds apparently ... All this plus underground history and peeks into the future. A quirky and unputdownable guide to the lines beneath our feet.
There’s an infectious enthusiasm about this book that will inspire every reader to look around their local train station with new eyes, or to take train trips specially to explore other lines and destinations. Author Vicki Pipe, ably assisted by Geoff Marshall (look out for Geoff’s Fun Facts text boxes – they’re irresistible), identifies fifty fascinating things to see and discover across the railways of England, Scotland and Wales and they range from tunnels, viaducts and lists of the smallest stations, to trees, railway pets and the people who keep the whole system moving. You get a great sense of the history of train travel in the UK and exciting glimpses into the future. A fact-filled information book compiled by people with a passion to match their knowledge.
All young children will be aware that plastic is causing major problems in the world, so this bright, attractive and informative book is very welcome. It poses all the questions readers will have about plastic including how is it made, why is there so much of it, why is it such a problem, and can we live without it. The answers are revealed by lifting flaps – 60 of them in total – and the information presented is clear and comprehensive, while also showing children that they have the ability to change things. It’s an excellent example of a well-thought out, smartly designed and carefully presented information book, perfectly pitched for its young readership, though I guarantee adult readers will learn something new too.
February 2020 Book of the Month | Small person in the family with a fondness for vehicles? They will love this book! Though there’s no real story as such, it’s action-packed, every page crammed with brightly coloured vehicles going about their business on equally bright backgrounds, a friendly animal character at the wheel. ‘Which bus would you catch?’ asks the first spread, which presents us with ten different buses to admire; ‘which truck would you drive?’ comes a bit further on. Trains, trucks, tractors, bicycles, boats, diggers, rockets, cars and emergency vehicles all get their moment in the spotlight, with questions and challenges on each page as well as speech bubbles, jokes and descriptions to read out. Bright, busy and so much fun, this will keep littles ones absorbed for hours. Fans of this will also enjoy William Bee’s equally bright and distinctive Wonderful World of series.
A fascinating guidebook to bears large and less large, this quirky book is packed with information but full of humour too. It introduces readers to the eight different species of bears living in the world, and there’s a section on each one, with a very useful illustrated panel showing ‘how they size up’. This is followed by pages on things all or most bears do, from eating and swimming (all) to hibernating (not all). There’s a mix of text and Katie Viggers’ characterful illustrations and alongside the facts, she has lots of fun – sloth bears for example, whose long, shaggy coats mean they often look untidy, are depicted at the bear hair salon. It’s comic but memorable too. Even if you didn’t love bears at the beginning of the book, you will by the end and either way you’ll have learned a great deal.
Informative, accessible and visually very appealing, this book is perfect for any young child who gazes up in wonder at the night sky. Via short blocks of text and colour illustrations it explains what stars are, describes the constellations and tells readers how to recognise planets and even satellites. It’s also full of practical information for young star-gazers, with advice on what to look for in the night sky, when and where. Our guide is Felicity, a friendly and knowledgeable cat, named in honour of the first cat in space, an added treat which makes the story even more reader-friendly.
‘My body is strong. My body can do amazing things. My body is my own.’ That’s the message for young girls to take from this comforting, uplifting and much-needed self-help guide. Our bodies are unique and amazing, it says, all of them, and there’s no one size, shape or colour that’s perfect. The message is demonstrated via colour illustrations featuring a range of young women happy with the way they look and who they are. The accompanying text reinforces this and also provides self-help tips for those times when you’re feeling down or insecure. There’s a really useful ‘Now What?’ section too full of self-care practices, while the jacket doubles as a poster for your wall, a self-care list for everyday life. It’s been carefully thought out from beginning to end, while illustrator Carol Rossetti’s young women feel like a group of friends cheering you on.
Colin Gifford is renowned for the quality and accuracy of his non-fiction books and has been nominated for, and won, many awards for his books. The illustrations are bright and child friendly making this a great book to dip into or to pore over. The point is made in the book that comparing things is a great way to learn about them, as well as being useful it’s also fun. It’s not often you can see the biggest, tallest and longest creatures on the earth in one double page spread, or how fast different creatures run. It’s no wonder you can never catch your pet cat – they run faster than humans! Still on cats, I had no idea they contained less water in their bodies than dogs! Subjects covered range from changing seasons, to flying high, mighty machines and tiny creatures plus many more. A book I am sure many youngsters will get a great deal of pleasure from, as well as learning lots along the way.
Greta Thunberg is the inspiration for this heartfelt and moving allegory. A little girl lives happily in a beautiful forest until the actions of neighbouring giants start to threaten her home and the wild animals who share it. The fictional Greta, like her real-life counterpart, begins a strike and is gradually joined by more and more people until the giants take notice. In this story they change their ways and everyone lives happily. Simply but powerfully the story explains the impact of human activity on the climate and our world, but reassures children that there’s something they can do: within notes about Greta Thunberg at the end is her quote, “No one is too small to make a difference.”
This is the fourth title by the duo of past Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen and writer Annemarie Young in this ground-breaking series which sets out to offer students a balanced view of the big topics and challenges the modern world faces. Having previously tackled meaty topics like Humanism, What is Right and Wrong and a similarly must-have purchase on Refugees and Migrants, this latest title could not be more perfectly timed for elucidating the forthcoming election campaign. Once again, the topic is broken down layer by layer. It looks at the whole spectrum of political views at international examples and examines what politics means in different contexts and situations, with each stage offering additional things to think about and consider and inviting the reader to reflect on their own experiences and feelings. Featuring personal statements from the authors and from four people involved in politics in different ways- Nimko Ali, Michelle Dorrell, James Graham and Sir Stephen O’Brien the overall message conveyed by the book is the very opposite of didactic. The content reflects the view that politics is about the use of power in all situations: in personal relationships, in business and the media and by the state. There is a particularly good section on how language can be used (and misused) and another on why politics causes such division and disagreement. The ground rules in the latter section should be studied by all prospective MPs! With the excellent index and glossary and further information sources this invaluable resource clearly articulates why everyone should care about politics. Highly recommended.
Amazing True-Life Tales; Astounding Wildlife Facts | A mix of inspiring true stories and fascinating facts and information, all presented across bright, colourful pages with striking, atmospheric illustrations, this is a terrific book for anyone who loves animals. Amongst the animal heroes whose stories we hear are Balto, a sledge dog who helped deliver live-saving medicine in the Alaska winter; Wojtek, the bear who became a favourite with Polish soldiers in World War 2; and Machli, a tiger who fought with an enormous crocodile to save her cubs. There are lots more too, animals who were never given names but whose actions demonstrate incredible intelligence and resilience. As Jess French says in her introduction, there’s always something new to learn about animals, and this book proves that time and time again.
Justin Anderson is a film maker who has been involved in high quality film production for the likes of Planet Earth II in his 18-year career of filming wildlife for the BBC. This book is born from his passion to share his fascination with the snow leopard – one of the creatures on the Red List of endangered species – the snow leopard is listed as ‘vulnerable’. This is a very simply told tale of how Anderson went looking for snow leopards and what he saw, but the strength of the book lies in the “footnotes” and the glorious illustrations by Patrick Benson. Benson is a multi-award-winning illustrator, known for the realism of his illustration – the almost photographic detail, rendered in such a simple palette with detail that makes you think you might actually be able to stroke the leopards (If you dare!). The “footnotes” are details about the leopards, in a different font on the relevant page of the book, so that the reader has good quality information to support the simple story – telling us more about the mysterious creature. For instance, I had no idea snow leopards sang in the moonlight – did you? The final spread of the book is devoted to a page of information about snow leopards, where you find more information about them and that ever important short index making the book useful and accessible for information retrieval. A useful and beautiful book.
Whether you travel on the London Underground every week (as millions do) or just once in a blue moon, this fascinating and beautifully illustrated book will intrigue you. It seamlessly mixes facts and human stories to explain the history of the tube from 1845, when Charles Pearson proposed an ‘Arcade Railway’ to cope with congestion on the roads, to today when 100 million people travel through Waterloo station alone every year. You’ll meet the people whose vision shaped the trains, their lines and the stations, and learn quirky facts about everything from lost property to ‘Mind the Gap’ announcements. Sarah McMenemy’s pen and ink illustrations are equally atmospheric whether representing passengers in Victorian times or today, and David Long, a Blue Peter Prize winner, knows just how to entertain and inform at the same time.
We all love strange stories and bizarre, unexplained events: do aliens exist? Are ghosts real? Is the Bermuda Triangle really a thing? Was there actually a curse on Tutankhamun’s tomb? This book examines these four questions, plus another six equally mesmerising, but challenges readers to use logic, intelligence and the facts to determine the truth. Author Kathryn Hulick presents thoroughly researched accounts, packed with information because, as she empahises, evidence is the most important thing. She ensures that the sources are reliable and then encourages readers while keeping an open mind to consider everything really carefully. It makes for a great read, especially when some of those mysteries – the Kraken – turn out to be strange but true. A book that glories in mystery, but also the power of science and human intelligence.
October 2019 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2019 | Follow in Greta Thunberg's footsteps and join the global mission to save our planet from climate change. With in-depth text and data, this necessary and timely book will answer readers' questions on what climate change means, what its consequences will be, and what must be done to protect our world.
September 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Matt Sewell is a passionate bird spotter as well as gifted artist and his enthusiasm shines through in this sumptuous book. He’s selected favourite birds from around the world, the exotic as well as the everyday, and each one featured is illustrated in his beautiful and expressive watercolour. The passages of text that accompany the illustrations include fascinating facts as well as information on the bird’s appearance and habitat, and some of the facts are really quirky – how the Australian Southern drongo came to provide the slang term for an idiot for example. This is a book to delight, intrigue and inspire as well as inform
What does it mean for people to have to leave their homes, and what happens when they seek entry to another country? This book explores the history of refugees and migration around the world and the effects on people of never-ending war and conflict. It compares the effects on society of diversity and interculturalism with historical attempts to create a racially 'pure' culture. It takes an international perspective, and offers a range of views from people who have personal experience of migration, including the campaigners Meltem Avcil and Muzoon Almellehan, the comedian and actor Omid Djalili and the poet Benjamin Zephaniah. Aimed at young people aged 10 and upwards, the book encourages readers to think for themselves about the issues involved. There is also a role-play activity asking readers to imagine themselves in the situation of having to decide whether to leave their homes and seek refuge in a new country.