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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.
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.
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
A beautifully written, incredibly original and wickedly funny novel for readers of 10 and older - Bloom is for everyone who has ever felt like they didn't fit in, and for anyone who has ever wanted a little more colour and wildness in their lives... Sorrel Fallowfield is growing up - in a REALLY surprising way . . .
Taken from the Blue Peter Awards website : The fifth in Owen Davey’s wonderful non-fiction series about animals (previous volumes have celebrated sharks, monkeys, cats and beetles) adds frogs to the ranks of clear, fascinating reads, accompanied by truly amazing graphic illustration. Each page is an absolute wonder, presented flawlessly, with just the right level of information for primary school kids to be truly fascinated and inspired to find out more. Highly recommended.
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.”
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.
‘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.
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.
As the issue of plastic pollution on land and in the oceans becomes ever more urgent, children need to understand what is going on, why and what steps they can do to change things. This book explains in clear text and abundant photographs what plastic is, how it is used, and why it’s a problem for the world. In addition to presenting the facts, it challenges young people to think about what they can do to help as well as including the latest information on plastic replacements – packaging made from seaweed for example. A useful, effective and stimulating information book.
100 Really Really Big Questions is an unusual and fun introduction to philosophy that explores life's important but often unanswered questions. Readers will be able to explore the history of thought and the great thinkers and learn how to think rationally for themselves. Mind-teasers, optical illusions and thought experiments make this philosophic journey unforgettably fun.