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The Power of Women's Voices | International in scope and sweeping in history, Yvette Cooper’s She Speaks compendium gives voice to a dazzlingly diversity of powerful speeches selected on the basis of them being delivered by “women who believe in using words to build a better world, and persuading others to join them as they do so.” The introduction is both inspirational and edifying, with Cooper surveying the hostile landscape women have traversed - and still traverse - while making their voices heard, integrated with personal insights from her career as a Labour MP, Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State.Throughout it’s a joy to the savour the words and wisdom of dozens of seminal female figures, from Boudica’s stirring two thousand year-old polemic against violations of women, to Diane Abbott’s powerful 2019 House of Commons speech on the brutally unjust Windrush scandal. Other British women with political pedigree include the fabulously fierce Barbara Castle (her speech here is an exquisite example of sharp, scathing, socialist-minded oratory), Jo Cox, with her poignant maiden speech as an MP, Yvette Cooper herself, and former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. While it might seem out of place for Cooper to re-amplify the Iron Lady’s inflammatory “ideological assault on the public sector” by including her “the lady’s not for turning” speech, she frames the decision by referring to Thatcher’s mould-breaking persona and indestructible self-belief. Thatcher’s inclusion is also testament to the gracious spirit that runs through the anthology. Indeed, Theresa May’s speech on modernising the Conservative party is also included.Beyond Britain we hear from Audre Lorde, Benazir Bhutto and Michelle Obama; from razor-witted US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nigerian novelist and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and young education campaigner Malala Yousafzai. I was especially stirred by the 1851 speech of Sojourner Truth, a former slave turned activist whose work saw her campaign against slavery and champion women’s rights, and whose words sang for the oppressed. The last words are given to Greta Thunberg because “no one speaks about the future with more clarity or urgency than Greta Thunberg”.“She Speaks, I must listen”, Cooper writes in her introduction and this finely-curated anthology will certainly inspire readers of all ages to pay close attention to the women’s words it shares.
Over 70 fun activities for children | I wish this book had been produced when I first started teaching, I would have loved all the different ideas and the clear and interesting way the pages are laid out. As an experienced teacher, however, I found that many of the ideas, story starters and writing suggestions a little predictable. Nonetheless, the ideas/brainstorming pages were brilliantly written with some super ideas to inspire, such as the A-Z of character traits, the use of a dice to choose settings for a story and the work on genres and choosing better words. It is a very accessible book and I would definitely use many of the ideas included. I do think the author has missed a trick, however, as it would be very easy to tuck in some grammar in amongst the creative suggestions. Key words such as ‘alliteration’ and the use of descriptive adjectives and verbs could easily have been mentioned or even disguised amongst the pages, making the book a more valuable resource. As with any activity book, it is one to dip in and out of rather than follow religiously, but is certainly idea provoking and very accessible to both teacher and child. Its accessibility and clear concise instructions would also lend itself well to the parent who wants to work on some writing tasks at home, or for a keen, creative child who wants some extension tasks or a fun writing task to work on independently. A fun and well-constructed workbook that I am sure will prove a popular resource.
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.
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.
Our World Explained in 12 Simple Maps | Maps are endlessly fascinating to children but this book will really open up the world to them. In Prisoners of Geography Tim Marshall reveals how geography has affected civilisations and how countries’ histories – and the lives of their people – have been shaped by the position of mountain ranges, valleys, rivers and coastlines. Take Russia for example: even as it grew bigger and more powerful over the centuries, it’s always been exposed to attack from the west because of the North European Plain, and still is. In another chapter he explains why it’s so important to China that it controls Tibet, and the islands in the South China Seas. By showing the ways geography, history and politics converge he makes complicated stuff – the situation in the Middle East for example – accessible and fascinating. It’s a book to get readers of any age thinking and seeing things differently.
December 2019 Book of the Month | Handsomely illustrated this information book is full of stories of adventure and exploration and takes readers to some of the wildest, most distant places on the planet, from the polar regions to the deepest underground caves. Each location is brought to life through maps and the geographical vital statistics but most vividly through the stories of the men and women who were among the first to explore them. Expect to get up close to the Matterhorn, the Arabian Desert and both poles while learning too about the threats to these beautiful places from climate change. Tyler’s striking graphic illustrations make the information even more memorable and there’s a useful glossary too.
May 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month May 2019 | Enduringly fascinating and inspiring, the story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s ascent of Everest is always worth re-visiting. This strong narrative biography matched with atmospheric illustrations brings the two men to life from their childhoods in New Zealand and Nepal respectively to their amazing feat of climbing the world’s highest mountain. Alexandra Stewart and Joe Todd-Stanton capture something about the personalities of the two and the reasons that they felt the need to take on this great challenge. Most successfully, in words and pictures they describe the extraordinary landscape of Everest and the surrounding mountains and in particular the enormous dangers and the unique magic of mountaineering - especially when you take on the challenge of the highest mountain in the world.
April 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2019 | Take an inspiring journey into sixteen very special and important landscapes each of which is brought to life in glorious large-scale illustrations. These set the scene for amazing dramas of nature that are taking place within them. From tropical rainforest to scorching deserts, these protected environments are home to rare and beautiful animals and plants which are shown here in glorious illustrations that display their finest details. While the illustrations will draw the readers in, there is also a wealth of information included in the fact file at the end making this a book that is full of value as well as beauty.
The author, an acclaimed headteacher, author and international speaker, talks a lot about empowerment and this inspiring read should empower teachers, governors and parents to have the confidence to resist a data and results-driven efficiency agenda from usurping the true function of education. As he says “The human race has not evolved and developed through history because of a focus on efficiency; it has evolved because of our natural-born curiosity and our desire to learn, to challenge, to innovate and to be better”. The 2013 OECD “Skills Outlook” report which he references emphasises that education has to fit young people for a rapidly changing future. He is emphatically child-centred and believes that empowerment extends to them as well. A successful school works in partnership with learners and with the external community it serves but is, in and of itself, a collaborative learning community too. His mantra is “systems and structures change nothing; people do” A school can only be as good as its teachers and for both teachers and students it has to provide trust, security and a common purpose. His thoughtful analysis of what and why change is needed, with examples learned beyond education will provide a sustaining boost to morale for any teacher struggling in difficult circumstances and a timely reminder to those in charge to raise their heads above the parapet and stand up for the future of learning. This valuable read is not a practical how-to guide at all, nor an angry polemic, but rather a genuinely heartfelt plea to put purpose and people over structures and tests. He successfully advocates Ghandi’s challenge: “Be the change you want to be”
Tara comes up with a big safety idea, but can it save her own skin and can she prevent a fatal crash? The old dressing up box in the attic propels Tara Binns into a new job each time she lifts the lid. She never knows what challenges she will face and we can all enjoy finding out with her. Luckily she is always accompanied on these pacy adventures by Ayesha and Ortez who work alongside her and encourage faith in her own abilities. Her powers of deduction are really tested here by problems on the factory floor and inspire her to think like an engineer. She comes up with a design solution for personal protection, but can she act in time to avert a terrible accident? Each title in this colourfully illustrated, inclusive series progresses to another levelled book band offering more depth and engaging detail to develop readers’ thinking, inference and reasoning skills alongside this inspiring, anti- stereotypical heroine. An excellent choice for the classroom or library. I can see that Tara Binns is all set to be the Mr Ben of this generation and this time we have a female role model! David McKee’s book and TV series no doubt inspired many boys in the 1980’s to reach for their dreams- whatever they may be. But as the WISE campaign for gender balance in STEM professions, which endorses this series from Collins Big Cat, tells us: only 8% of girls go on to study STEM subjects and only 22% of women are employed in STEM careers. Tara Binns could help to change that and inspire girls to open their eyes to their full potential! Each story in this book banded series has a reading guide at the back providing practical support and stimulating activity ideas. There is a full teaching guide and lesson plan available on the website https://collins.co.uk/pages/tara-binns and WISE are providing real life case studies for each of the careers featured. High-Flying Pilot and Double-Quick Doctor are available now and 3 more STEM career titles will follow later in the year.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Shortlist Book Awards 2019 | Nominated for the 2019 Kate Greenaway Medal | Take a tour of the oceans in Yuval Zommer’s engaging reference book. It guides us through the seas in the company of the living creatures you’d see there, from the sea turtles and rainbow schools of fish in tropical waters, to whales and tuna, shoreline dwellers and the inhabitants of the deepest, darkest waters. Each page is wonderful to look at, and answers the questions children really want to ask: how fast does a flying fish need to swim to launch itself out of the water? Who does an octopus need eight arms? How long can a seal hold its breath underwater? There’s information too on the danger to the oceans from pollution and global warming, while a page of ‘fishy-phrases’ gives children the technical language to use when describing the animals that live in the sea. A book to inspire and entertain as well as inform.
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