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January 2020 Debut of the Month | There’s a lovely ‘what if’ challenge in this quirky and inspiring picture book. Little Nara is an expert hat maker, creating beautiful hats for the animals in her forest studio. One day she receives a letter from a new customer – can she make a hat for Mr Mountain no less? She rises to the challenge, trying out various different materials before finding exactly the right way to make a hat for a mountain. The story unfolds beautifully, and it makes a great tale of friendship, creativity and ingenuity. There’s lots to discuss while reading and this could prompt interesting STEM conversations or projects too. This is Soojin Kwak’s debut and she is definitely an illustrator to watch.
This little volume is just the right size to fit into a pocket or backpack and it’s well worth young readers keeping it to hand at all times as it’s packed with advice on ways to be more green. Chapters include ‘Do You Live in a Green House?’, ‘Shopping for the Planet’ and ‘Stop Polluting the Planet’ and after describing the impact of the ways of life we all take for granted, they list things we can easily do to make a difference. These ‘over to you’ sections are practical, do-able and empowering. There’s a list of websites to visit at the end to find out more, as well as Planet Pledges to sign – one for the reader, one for the reader’s family. Accessible, informative and positive, this is a great book for anyone who cares about the future of our planet and highly recommended.
Shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2020, Best Book with Facts category | Taken from the Blue Peter Awards website: This fascinating picture book is full of brilliant information for children about the lesser-known elements of space exploration and clues them in as to how they might aspire to be involved one day. It’s useful to learn that astronauts can come from a military, medical or scientific background and be able to speak Russian as well as English. They also need to be highly qualified in their subject, as well as very fit and healthy for all the physical and mental training they will encounter. Complete with a press-out model rocket to build and pages of stickers to play with, this is an original and inspiring read for young readers.
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.
This is a superb little book for children telling them all about the planetary system. It is written at a great level for kids and it brilliantly illustrated in a manner that keeps their attention. The author writes in such a way that draws the kids into the book and involves them while teaching them a little science which hopefully will be the building blocks of an interest in science. The book itself is easy to read along with kids and brings the moons to life which is most enjoyable. As an adult, I learned quite a bit about the planets and their moons myself and really enjoyed the book. It is a book to consider buying for kids and I'm sure adult and kid will enjoy reading it together or individually. Time and money well spent if you buy the book. Catherine Bryce, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
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.
It’s a big day in junior inventor Izzy Gizmo’s house: a letter has arrived with an invitation to an Invention Convention. At first, Izzy is uncharacteristically unsure, pointing out that her machines don’t always work. Following a wonderfully robust response to that from her Grandpa - “Cobblers!” he shouts – they pack up her tools and set off for Technoff Isle in an extraordinarily wonderful, amphibious vehicle, designed by Izzy. The plot moves forward as energetically as Izzy’s contraption, with the young inventors challenged to an invention competition. Izzy seems to be in trouble when one of her competitors selfishly hoards all the materials available for herself, but there’s very little that Izzy can’t tackle with her limitless ingenuity and creativity. Picture book stars don’t come much more inspirational or resilient than young Izzy, but she’s thoroughly human too, not above getting frustrated or bad-tempered and often in need of encouragement from Grandpa and her friend Fixer the crow. The story is a joyful celebration of inventions and inventiveness with an excellent message for young readers. Pip Jones’ rhyming text and Sara Ogilvie’s action-packed illustrations match each other for wit and energy. This is a story guaranteed to fire the imagination, and let’s face it, the world needs more Izzy Gizmos. This review first appeared on Books for Keeps.
October 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | This book put smell, the Cinderella of the senses, into the spotlight. It examines smelly facts about the human body, some of them really rather disgusting, as well as the power and importance of our sense of smell. It looks at how animals use smell and how plants use it too to attract insects or keep animals away. And it looks at smells and smelling through history before taking a last look at weird and wonderful odours. With unusual facts and information on every page it’s well worth a nose. I was particularly fascinated by the ‘odorous occupations’ highlighted in panels throughout the book and children will be definitely tempted to try out the smelly experiments and activities it suggests too.
Twenty Inspiring Stories of People Saving Our World | Timely and inspirational, this edifying exposition of twenty individuals who are actively working to save our world will surely chime with a generation of young readers who’ve grown up mindful of climate change and will be acutely aware of – if not also engaged in – contemporary climate activism movements. The familiar names of David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg are covered, with fascinating information about their backgrounds and the pivotal moments that set them on their earth-saving quests. Lesser-known but equally as inspirational figures are presented too, such as Isabel Soares of Portugal who pioneered a scheme to cut down food waste (“beautiful people eat ugly fruit”) and Amelia Telford, a young woman with Aboriginal roots whose clever actions as a teenager - and beyond - brought climate change and the voice of Indigenous Australians to the attention of the Australian Prime Minister. Throughout the tone is – importantly and commendably – engaging and easily readable yet refreshingly grown-up, in that its audience of young readers are never talked-down to about big issues. The book must also be commended for Jackie Lay’s illustrations and its smart design, with pithily inspirational quotes opening each person’s entry. Teeming with heart, hope and humanity, this non-fiction treasure is ideal for reading alone or using in the classroom.
An inspiring introduction to the life of one of the UKs greatest scientist, Stephen Hawking. When he was still a young man, Hawking was diagnosed with a form of motor neurone disease which he knew would disable him and shorten his life. He was determined to achieve all he could despite this and he did. His research into black holes and the theory of the Big Bang was ground breaking and of the greatest importance to all subsequent scientific study.
Level 5 - National Geographic Kids Reader | Newly adapted to British English and the Key Stage 2 Curriculum and benefitting, as do all the National Geographic Kids excellent series of readers, from their archive of superlative photography, this Face to Face series gives a fascinating insight into the skills, techniques and routines of the wild-life photographers who capture such wonderful images. Brian Skerry here shares treasured family moments as his 11-year old daughter is befriended by a manatee calf and the reader can share his genuine respect and interest in these gentle and increasingly vulnerable sea mammals. A carefully balanced account shows how manatees have in some cases gained from human developments such as power stations providing the warm water and expanding their habitable areas as well as the obvious dangers caused by pollution and increasing numbers of boats. The reader learns about their worldwide distribution and conservation issues as well as fascinating facts about their, place in myth, legend, history and biology. They are, in fact, most closely related to elephants! At Level 5 the text contains some complex, technical language and varied sentence structures suitable for a confident, independent readers, but the image quality, design and layout will engage readers and support understanding. Research skills are also facilitated with the help of all the correct information text features such as contents page, and excellent index and glossary.
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 Book of the Month | From its dedication to Sir David Attenborough – ‘the most awesome human who has ever lived’ – this brilliant information book strikes exactly the right note, laying out the huge problems we and our planet are facing from plastic but at the same time showing us how we can change our behaviour to really make a difference, while still living a fun and happy life. Author, former McFly and Busted member Dougie Poynter makes sure the tone is friendly and accessible, while keeping a focus on the big issues, and what we need to do about them. He’s invited contributions from a range of scientist and campaigners, who all show that taking action is far more doable than we think. It makes for really lively, stimulating and inspiring reading, the kind of book we all need in our lives right now.
The Sky at Night presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock was bitten by the space bug as a kid and does an excellent job of passing on her passion in this inspiring book. She encourages us to copy Einstein in his ‘thought experiments’ and follow her on an imagined journey through space to the very edge of the Solar System. The book features amazing NASA photos alongside full colour illustrations and is packed with up-to-date information presented in blocks of text or via charts and diagrams. It does exactly what books like this should: answering all the questions readers will have, while inspiring them to future journeys of discovery.
This year sees the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, so interest in space exploration will be particularly high. Handsomely illustrated with Chris Nielsen’s bold retro images, and packed with information, Balloon to the Moon will answer all the questions any potential astronauts might pose. It covers the entire spectrum, from mankind’s first attempts to get off the ground via balloons in the 1700s to the space race as it developed in the 50s, 60s and 70s, with revealing descriptions of the personalities involved as well as the technology. It all makes for a fascinating story, and one that will appeal to readers of all kinds. Concluding with a page on space careers and the future of humankind’s exploration of our universe this is a book to inform and inspire.
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