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Science should be exciting for young people, giving them skills and opportunities to improve their futures. Here are a selection of books we love, books we think will inspire every child to become more interested in Science.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Until approximately 100 years ago wolves had roamed freely in Yellowstone Park and their existence had shaped the eco-system of that vast expanse of wilderness. But, over the years, hunters killed off the wolves and everything in Yellowstone Park began to change. Elk took over the valleys eating everything they could so many plant species disappeared, bears went hungry and many of the familiar birds flew away. Yellow stone Park was changed! A plan was hatched to put wolves back into the habit making sure that their arrival would only do good. It was complex and daring but, once it had been carried off, fourteen wolves began a new life and the ecology of Yellowstone Park began to change again… Catherine Barr tells most of the story as narrative non-fiction which brings the environment and the animals vividly to life. Further facts are added in an additional, fact-filled section. Jenni Desmond’s illustrations evoke the wild and mysterious background of Yellowstone Park perfectly.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Packed full of illustrations, exciting experiments - and even comic strips - That's Life! encourages young scientists to start looking for the living things around them. Life is everywhere on planet Earth. Jungles, deserts, seas, plains, fields and forests - all of them teem with life but, amazingly, you can also find lots of living things hidden in your home, and even hidden inside you!
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Award-winning children's non-fiction writer David Long takes you on a voyage like no other in Tragedy At Sea: The Sinking of the Titanic. Overflowing with astounding facts and fascinating illustrations and diagrams, discover the catastrophic end of the Titanic in this riveting account of one of history’s most famous disasters. This brilliantly accessible retelling of this unforgetable tragedy is a perfect and engaging read for history fanatics and reluctant readers alike, supported with fantastic black and white illustrations from Stefano Tambellini. Discover David Long's fascinating Apollo 13 space mission facts!
Take one box – a cereal box for example – and this craft ideas book, and get creating! Thanks to a set of recycled plastic corners just right for joining up card (and neatly contained in a storage compartment) with clear, easy to follow instructions, kids will be able to transform the box into any one of 20 different toys. Once they have got to grips with the easier creations including a dinosaur, a rocket and a fabulous looking car they can challenge themselves with the trickier space helmet or unicorn mask. Like all the best ideas it’s really simple, really effective and likely to be just the start of more creative activity. The JUNKO ethos is all about reuse and being eco-friendly. The Epic Cereal Box Creations is a brilliantly clever concept, turning household waste and packaging into toys: even those plastic corners are made from recycled plastic! Not only is it fun, it’s a great way to build those all-important STEAM skills too. Who needs plastic toys when you can have fun and make your own out of cardboard? Purchase Epic Cereal Box Creations directly from the Junko website here!
What do you see when you look up at the sky? It may seem like a big, empty space, but it's busier than you think. From clouds and stars, to birds, planes and everything in between - there's a whole sky to explore. Skygazing is a double-sided book full of incredible cross-curricular information, fun activities, and beautiful illustrated scenes to enjoy. Discover why the sky is blue, early experiments in flight, and how helicopters stay aloft, before flipping the book to read all about the night sky. Find out how to read the stars, spot the night's flying creatures and see the colours of the aurora borealis.
Who knew you could do so much with – and learn so much from – an ordinary glass jar? Created by scientist and educator Dr Sai Pathmanathan, this book contains 50 accessible, low-cost, hands-on science activities that will educate and inspire young minds about everything from magnets to matter, and light to evolution. And the most amazing thing is, pretty much all you need to set them up, is a jar. Dr Pathmanathan believes that science can be most awe-inspiring when we work things out for ourselves, and that’s definitely borne out here, where children are inspired to think about science, and use what they observe themselves to come to conclusions. The instructions for each experiment are easy to follow and accompanied by clear explanations of the science behind it, as well as suggestions for additional activities. Designed for use at home or at school, this will definitely appeal to enquiring minds and open up a world of wonder. One word of warning though – there are some groan-inducing puns as chapter titles!
The future is in our hands | This is a book which follows through on commitment – not only is it sustainably produced, but one tree will be planted for every book sold in the UK. It is also a beautifully designed and illustrated book with a carefully thought out structure and page layout to really aid comprehension and understanding. The first section explains the causes of climate change, from greenhouse gases to deforestation, and the combined effect of agriculture, energy production and consumption, buildings and mining. The next section shows the effects on rising sea levels, biodiversity, storms, flooding, heatwaves, wildfires etc. Each spread includes a mix of images, graphic representations, text boxes and conveys a great deal of information in a clear, accessible and engaging manner. There is also a Changemaker feature on every page which gives brief details about a young person affected by these issues and what they did to combat them. The third section “Our Part” shows the individual contribution to the problem and is the clearest explanation I have seen of the carbon footprint of our food, our clothes, our homes, our travel and our stuff! But far from being a depressing book, the last section “ Inspiration” lists more young Groundbreakers and tells us what we each can do and what sort of green futures we can work towards, revealing more amazing ideas getting started than I had thought possible. A detailed and informative glossary ensures this book takes no chances with understanding. This is an outstanding information book which is useful for a wide range of students.
March 2021 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | The Usborne Book of the Brain (and How it Works) by neuroscientist Betina Ip is a delightful science book aimed at children aged 5+. It takes young readers on a journey inside the human head to see how the brain works and what it does, looking at the main brain cells (neurons) and their connections. It uses simple terms to explain how we see, think, use our senses, feel emotions, form memories, sleep and make decisions. Using age-appropriate practical examples, such as ‘How do we decide which ice cream to have?’, the book gives young children plenty to talk about with their family, friends and teachers. There are also sections on how to look after your brain and how scientists learn about brains. With its colourful illustrations and packed full of fascinating facts, this book is perfect – and great fun – for inquisitive children (and their parents).
First published over 150 years ago, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species still shapes how we see the world, and his words and theories are fascinating for young people. This handsomely illustrated book clearly explains Darwin’s discoveries and what they revealed in a way that even young children will follow and understand. It’s divided into short, manageable sections, each examining and elucidating Darwin’s ideas on selection and evolution, the final pages bringing us right up to date and outlining what we can do now thanks to modern discoveries and technology. Beautiful to look at, it’s genuinely inspiring, a way to tune young readers into Darwin’s thought process and spark their imagination and interest in science as a result.
Written and illustrated with infectious verve, Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories puts paid to any notion that women’s role in science has been peripheral. In fact, despite huge impediments, and thanks to their intellect and tenacity, this inspiring book shows how women have been at the heart of many major discoveries - from finding the cure for malaria, to spearheading revolutionary DNA research, to making monumental advances in the fields of volcanology, astronomy, botany and chemistry (and more). Through an engaging blend of text, comic strips, fact boxes and diagrams, the book explores eight life-changing scientific innovators in detail. The fact that most of the scientists aren’t household names tells you everything you need to know about the importance of this book - these are innovators whose names should be known. Take Tu Youyou, for example, the Chinese chemist who spent months on a remote island researching traditional medicines in order to discover a cure for malaria, testing potentially dangerous preparations on herself - and all this against the precarious backdrop of the Cultural Revolution that saw her separated from her family and sworn to secrecy. Then there’s out-of-this-world Mae Jemison, an astoundingly multi-talented woman who grew up watching the first space missions during the Civil Rights Movement and went on to become the first African-American woman astronaut in 1992. Informative, inspiring and presented with passion and clarity, this is children’s non-fiction at its finest.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2021 | The story of the brilliant scientist Marie Curie, the chemist/ physicist who made life saving discovery in medicine and won the Nobel Prize for her work has long been an inspiration to all budding scientists. Marie Curie overcame much prejudice against women scientists to succeed as she did and, in doing so, opened the doors for future generations of women. But Marie Curie had another important role as an inspiration to future generations: she was the mother of two scientists who also grew up to become women scientists in their own right. This rounded life of Marie Curie and her daughters is beautifully realised in words and pictures by sisters Imogen and Isobel Greenberg in a book that will encourage all readers to take bold steps in life.
February 2021 Book of the Month | Kids are always being told that if they ‘dream their dreams’ one day those dreams will come true. ‘Living the dream’ is a very different experience for 11-going-on-12-year-old Malky in Ross Welford’s absorbing, vastly entertaining novel. Blackmailed into a bungled burglary, Malky becomes owner of a set of Dreaminators, mysterious machines that make dream worlds real and give the dreamer powers to control them. At first, Malky and his co-dreamer, little brother Seb, enjoy their night-time adventures, especially those in a Stone Age world closely based on Seb’s favourite storybook where they make friends, go hunting, and Seb has high hopes of riding a mammoth. If it seems too good to be true, of course it is, and as Malky’s ability to control what’s happening in his dreams weakens, everything – awake or asleep – starts to go wrong. When Seb is taken prisoner in a dream and falls into a life-threatening coma in real life, Malky has to face up to his responsibilities, not to mention the fears and anger his dreams have disguised, in one last terrifying dream. At least he has new friends there to help. The story is cleverly told and plotted, moving back and forward in time, from dream to reality, with Doctor Who ease. It’s full of humour too, e.g. a wonderful scene in the school canteen in which Malky does all the things he’s always dreamed of doing, not realising he’s actually awake. Core too are the really big things in life – friendship, love, family, learning about yourself and understanding others. It’s a book that delights in the fact that the inside of our head is bigger far than the outside. Readers who enjoy Welford’s excellent books will also race through Christopher Edge’s out-of-this world adventures.
Full of clearly presented facts and figures, plus useful advice on ways they can make a difference, this is an excellent introduction to the climate crisis for young readers. The language is simple and backed up throughout by illustrations making complex issues easy to understand and digest. Broken into five different chapters, the book explains the basics – the greenhouse effect and the danger from burning fossil fuels; introduces the IPCC and spells out why we are sure there is a crisis; talks about what we need to do, and why we’re not doing it faster; and finishes by listing things individuals can do now to make a difference, no matter their age. The conclusion reassures readers that having read the book, they will have the tools to imagine the future they want as well as ideas about how to get it. As always in Usborne’s reliable information books, it directs readers to websites where they can find out more via the special Quicklinks (usborne.com/Quicklinks). A stimulating, informative, expertly targeted, and positive guide to the major issue of our time. This would be good to read in conjunction with Josh Lacey’s new Hope Jones series which looks at climate change and what to do about it through the eyes of a fictional character.
From million-copy bestselling author David Baddiel comes a laugh-out-loud and inspiring new adventure for all readers of 8 and up that is ahead of its time - 1,001 years ahead, to be precise... The year is 3020. Pip@256X#YY.3_7 is lonely and bored: she goes to virtual school on her G-Glasses, she only has a talking cat and parrot to hang out with, and she can't even leave her LivingSpace due to the extreme heat and floods outside. Until the day that Pip explores a glowing ring in a lab and finds herself in a warehouse, in 2019. Where she meets boy-inventor Rahul - who is also lonely and bored. Together, Rahul and Pip are no longer lonely. But they have a whole load of new problems, including hiding talking animals from Rahul's parents, and finding a way back to the future. Plus - just maybe - saving the world... Future Friend is a terrifically entertaining time-slip adventure that combines action, laugh-out-loud humour and the importance of friendship, in a story that asks the question - what would happen if your best friend came from the future?
A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body | This is an information text that will be read with great pleasure and is actually as unputdownable as a novel. It is very apparent that the multimillion-copy selling author and medical doctor has never grown out of his gleeful fascination with the human machine and has a real knack for presenting complex facts both clearly and concisely while making the reader laugh out loud. Similarly, the illustrations by Henry Parker combine accurate explanatory diagrams and zany amusing cartoons, often on the same page. Much of the humour is, of course, derived from the more disgusting aspects of the internal and external body and to making fun of the complicated language and terminology doctors and scientists use, but nonetheless using and explaining all those terms. Indeed the book concludes with a brilliantly educative glossary (and even the jokes are indexed!) A running gag is Clive and the ‘naming committee’ responsible for naming body parts, as is the continued references to the author’s dog Pippin, but always in a way which enhances an explanation or a description and develops understanding. Chapters cover all the organs and systems of the body as well as reproduction, life and death and germs (including COVID-19) and include Kay’s Kwestions (another running gag about needing a replacement Q on his keyboard) and True or Poo sections which answer the sort of questions inquisitive children will be dying to ask and expose the myths, misinformation and old wives tales that you might have heard. He does not shrink from difficult topics or giving unpopular advice – junk food, smoking and drinking really are bad for you and washing your hands properly is important. As genuinely useful as any textbook or revision guide, I would suggest multiple copies will be needed to satisfy demand in any school library.
Use Your Future to Change the World | Companion to We Are All Greta, Green Nation Revolution sets out impactful steps young citizens of the new Green Nation can take “in the immediate future to shape their destiny and help make the Earth a safer place for everyone”. Rich in data, case studies and strategies for bringing about lasting positive social, economic and environmental change, this is a punch-packing must-read for teen readers who are keen to get more involved with youth-led green movements. After opening with the positive context of how much the impetus for change has grown in the past two years, with an almost ten-fold increase in Climate Strike participants, the authors define the Green Nation as “a state with no entry or exit barriers, in which people are united by a deep sense of responsibility towards the planet”. And the citizens of the Green Nation are the millions of schoolchildren who “think beyond geographical borders and do not see themselves as belonging to a specific country in the world, but to something new and highly responsive”. Whether discussing the circular economy, regenerative agriculture, renewable energy, smart cities, sustainable tourism, or Green Nation jobs (“We do not need superheroes to save the planet; we need engineers, economists, scientists, biologists, environmentalists, architects and designers"), the authors are always upfront with - and respectful of - their young readers. Accompanied by crisp, contemporary illustrations, this accessible, inspiring toolkit for creating true long-term change is smart in style and content.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2021 | 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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