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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.
Kids love collecting and what could be bigger and better than collecting mountains? The Wainwrights Pocket Log and Tick List is a handsome little book, small enough to pop into a pocket and take up into the Lakeland fells. Conveniently grouped in accordance with the famous Wainwright Pictorial Guides, the pocket log has a dedicated page for each of the 214 Wainwright Fells and kids will love to record details of their walks and keep a tally of their achievements. With a velvet-like cover and gilded pages it has a quality feel and would be a welcome addition to any young walker's Christmas stocking.
May 2019 Debut of the Month | This bright, busy book – the text delivered via an irresistible bouncy rhyme – presents children with lots to look at, and lots to think about too. The story is told by a parent, who excitedly details all the world has to offer, and all the potential for children to find happiness and fulfilment as they grow up. There are warnings too that it’s not always easy, but that’s followed by the reassuring reminder that whatever happens, one thing won’t change: from your head down to you toe, no matter what/ I love you so. The artwork is contemporary but the message is timeless and it’s an excellent book for parent and child to share.
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.
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.
Marie Curie, written by Isabel Thomas and illustrated by Anke Weckmann, is a charmingly illustrated biography of one of the world’s most famous scientists. Marie Curie was a brilliant scientist who coined the term ‘radioactivity’, discovered polonium and radium, and helped develop treatments for cancer. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
This is an excellent first information book: full of facts that will intrigue the very young and spark their imagination. Each page features a different wild animal, native to the savannah, as a sturdy pop-up that will surprise and delight with each reading. We meet and learn about lions, giraffes, hippos, meerkats and elephants as well as about their shared habitat. The animals are captured in lines of rhyming text, with extra lines providing additional factual information. The illustrations are bold and eye-catching, and it all adds up to an excellent package.