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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 20 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 is a superb example of an information text, ostensibly for younger children, but with multi-age and multi-curriculum uses. It is also a thing of beauty, printed on high quality paper doing full justice to the stunning illustrations, with the author’s expressive brush work, clever layout and a palette filled with watery blues and greens and the white and grey of rain, fog and snow. A little girl notices the role of water all around her—a sprinkler, a tap, a stream, a lake. She also notices that water sometimes tries to hide, or change state, and that water is part of every living thing including her. The book concludes with four pages of beautifully clear explanations of water forms (liquid, solid and gas), the water cycle and the all-important conservation of water. There are some excellent suggestions of how to play and learn about water and true or false questions to check understanding. These are very well suited to older children too, as indeed the book is, as a model of writing and the effective use of figurative language. Poetic descriptions make this an enjoyable read-aloud and the larger font labels that identify the source of the water on each page (including Zoe the narrator) are perfect for vocabulary building for the youngest child. A really well thought out and brilliantly executed early science picture book that deserves a place in every school.
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.
Mental Health campaigner and co-founder of the Self Esteem Team, Natasha Devon, is a brilliant speaker. Funny, self-deprecating but passionate and informed too. The key aspect you take away in person or from this excellent book is that she really cares. She is completely frank and open about her own problems growing up but shares her successes too. This honesty shines through and gives the reader confidence in the advice she offers. Everything is grounded in research and at the back you can see the experts she has consulted for every chapter as well as useful lists of where to go for further help. The book is most certainly entertaining enough to read from cover to cover, but it is also straightforward to pick and choose the relevant section you need, and it covers all of secondary school through to university and beyond. As with most self help guides there are quizzes and assessments for self-analysis which again are thoroughly grounded in research. The layout and illustrations are bright and lively, and the jokes flow freely but the important thing is that the overall tone is neither puerile nor patronising. The author has spent a considerable amount of time in schools with young people and it shows, the tone is absolutely pitch perfect. About the only circumstance which is not comprehensively covered in this excellent book is the cancellation of the entire exam system. But given that this will undoubtedly be causing considerable stress in young people then this book will certainly earn its keep. Highly recommended and an essential purchase for home and school.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal | This is the story of eighteen-year-old Mary Shelley and the inspirations that led her to create Frankenstein, one of the most famous fictional monsters of all time. This is a wonderfully original book, with a strong narrative thread, gloriously illustrated, and populated with unforgettable characters.
Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Norman John Gillies was one of the last children born on the remote Scottish island of St Kilda and is the subject of this emotionally compelling story of a community relocated to the mainland in 1930. This is a beautiful, moving evocation of place and connection written and illustrated with a simplicity that speaks to young and old alike.
“Don’t take things for granted – challenge everything. That means challenging big business and your governments and, most of all, challenging yourself to act now and save the planet,” so writes activist author Blue Sandford, the seventeen-year-old founding member of Extinction Rebellion Youth London, in her inspiring call-to-action introduction to Challenge Everything. The only official handbook from Extinction Rebellion, this youth-driven, youth-oriented manifesto speaks loud and clear to the legions of young people who feel disenchanted with world leaders, and angry at the greed of big business dictating the downward direction of the world, all enhanced by strikingly designed slogans and illustrations. At the book’s heart is the powerful message that, “you are responsible for your own actions.” For example, “every time you take an uber, go on holiday on a plane, buy new trainers, even turn on the lights and heating, you’re contributing to climate and ecological collapse, you’re indirectly destroying rainforests and wildernesses.” This is typical of the book’s punch-packing perspective. Above all else, the author seeks to empower her readers with a change of mindset, one that challenges all aspects of the status quo, with the ultimate aim of saving the planet. Covering everything from the destructive effects of flying and the fast fashion industry, to the importance of re-wilding and reconnecting with nature, this potently persuasive manifesto also has a powerful practical emphasis, with details on the forms challenges might take, such as boycotting, non-violent direct action, campaigning and government lobbying.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2020 | Taking a philosophical approach, this is a comprehensive look at the challenging question: What is Time? Having posed the question, author and illustrator Kathrin Köller and Irmela Schautz take readers through the past and present stories, myths and symbols of time from around the world which help to explain some of the mysteries which we all experience. These set the scene for a detailed look at the realities of how time is recorded and counted before closing with a section on travelling through time as in across time zones and in futuristic fantasies. Rich in detail and fully illustrated this is a sophisticated and complex book that will repay very many readings and re-readings.
20 questions about life and the universe | This book was designed with bright, curious readers in mind and serves them really well. Author Jamia Wilson was just such a child, never happier than when asking questions about the hows and whys of the world (one of them being why most of the big thinkers in her schoolbooks were white European men). She sets out here to get young people thinking and debating too, posing big questions like ‘is God real?’ and ‘what is the imagination?’. She outlines the beliefs of different thinkers to provide a history of thought – often including quotes and short biographies – but emphasises that everyone picking up the book is a philosopher with equally meaningful, important views. Bursting with ideas, this will start all sorts of conversations and discussions, and open up a world of debate.
Clive 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.
Tom E. Moffatt has compiled an amazing collection of jokes which is enormous fun. The contents page contains about 25 separate subject categories so there are jokes to suit everyone. I know that my granddaughters would turn immediately to the chapters entitled 'Bare Bum Buffoonery', 'Body Part Puns' and 'Stinky Poo Gags'! Each chapter contains not only jokes but details on why the author has decided to create jokes on that subject and a little snippet of information related to it. I thought the text was extremely well set out with clear spacing and different fonts used for the jokes and responses. The cartoon type illustrations are great fun and match the content well. I also liked the fact that at the back of the book there are details about the author's website and children can become involved by joining his mailing list and contributing their own jokes. I have seen many joke books for children but this is by far my favourite and I shall be ordering copies for my grandaughters. Val Rowe, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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”