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January 2022 Book of the Month | What a charming, and wonderfully practical how-to book this is. A junior ballerina provides all sorts of advice and information to her peers, from how to style your hair in a bun (NB it’s quite hard if you’ve recently cut it yourself), to the first steps you’ll learn, to what your teacher means by straight legs. It’s no-nonsense stuff, second position is dismissed as ‘boring’, though fourth position gets the thumbs up, and she warns us not to treat the barre as monkey bars, unless you want to spend time in the thinking corner. We’re left in no doubt though how much this little girl loves ballet and her last bit of advice is perfect, ‘if you’re dancing and your heart feels like it’s flying, you will know for sure that you’re a real ballerina.’ The text is full of humour and character, as are Jenny Løvlie’s gorgeous illustrations, and together they also capture the grace of ballet. This is a book to entertain and inspire all young ballerinas, and to make their parents smile in recognition too.
Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 7+ | Dotted with knock knock jokes and including an hilarious bit of involuntary roller skating, this little book will have young readers smiling. Anna Liza wants to be a psychiatrist like her mum, after all, she says, a job where you can make sad people happy again must be the best job in the world. Unknown to her mum, she’s set up a practice in the waiting room which is where she meets Edward. Edward’s sad because his daddy is sad, and Anna Liza is determined to help. Her unorthodox approach – it’s where the roller skating comes in – certainly does the trick. Lots of children will know an adult who is unhappy like Edward’s dad, and this amusing story touches lightly on the subject of depression while reminding us all of the things that make life worth living. For more gently, funny treatments of depression for children, see Brilliant by Roddy Doyle and Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot by Horatio Clare.
Your dreams can be enormous, even though you might be small. You just need to believe you can be anything at all. These lines open and close this positive and inspiring picture book, and in between we play and explore with four lively little friends as they build models, explore ‘jungles’ and go swimming with whales. Not only do their games look great fun, but they also hint at all the things the children could do in the future. Playful but delightfully accurate in its depiction of small children, it’s a book to make readers of all ages smile and feel happy.
Let’s face it, learning to recycle and understand why it’s so important is just about the most important life skill there is right now, so congratulations to Sunbird Books for this bright, engaging board book which explains recycling simply to the very young. Over five jolly spreads, we follow the progress of a tin can all the way from the green bin on its journey from rubbish to shiny, new recycled tin. The text is short, perfectly geared for little ones, and fun to read, and the illustrations are lively with lots to spot and name. A spinning wheel (watch those tins drop into the recycling lorry) and a surprise pull out tab at the end add to the fun. Essential reading for budding eco-warriors everywhere! There's a companion board book Go Go Eco Apple too!
Ever been asked what happens to the apple after you throw it into the green recycling bin? This book takes the very youngest on the apple core’s journey to the recycling plant and on until it is transformed into compost to help another apple tree to grow. In board book format, this is perfect for the very youngest children. The text is simple but stimulating, and the pictures clear and bright, full of things to spot, name and count. Added treats like a spinning wheel so that you can drop the apples into the compost bin, and a pull up tab to reveal the new tree, make it even more satisfying. Fun, informative and engaging, this is the perfect book for young eco-heroes. You'll also love the companion title; Go Go Eco Tin Can!
The Branford Boase prizewinning author has produced another winner with his second book. This is the thrilling story of Queenie de la Cruz, an ordinary girl who happens to be a big fan of world’s most popular fizzy drink. When a bottle washes up at her feet on the beach near her run-down house, this is not unusual- the beach is so covered with rubbish she hardly notices it. But this bottle contains the top-secret recipe for her favourite drink. Priceless information that the big corporation wants back at any cost! The way they manipulate the media and instigate a world wide search for Queenie is genuinely scary and thought provoking. While on the run Queenie comes to realise a lot about the world and the threats it faces from big business and consumerism. She also realises the value of friendship, finds her courage to stand up for what is right and that some things are more important than money. The suspense filled plot will keep readers guessing and the powerful underlying environmental message will strike home. A story which, like his debut novel Kick, looks at the darker side of consumerism and big business and its worldwide affects, but this is so successfully wrapped up in a really great story that this will be a really popular read as well as a valuable discussion starter.
A man with an obsession for straight lines and sharp angles is converted by a sudden encounter with nature and learns to live a happier, more relaxed life as a result in Thibaut Rassat’s quirky, thought-provoking book. Architect Eugene likes order and tries his hardest to impose it in his own home and on the buildings he designs where everything has to be straight, square and in line. The builders have fun teasing him by leaving bathtubs on the balconies, but they’re caught out themselves when Eugene suddenly changes his view of the world. What provokes it? When a tree falls into his latest building, Eugene is struck by its beauty and the beauty of its curves and proportions. From then on, straight lines are out and nature and making things nicer for wildlife well and truly in. It’s a book to give children real insight into what an architect does, and how, but it will also open their eyes to the beauty and unexpected order of the natural world.
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.
Become a leader like | Not only does this lively, smartly designed book tell readers lots about Michelle Obama’s story, it also conveys brilliantly her attitude to life and work, making it thoroughly inspiring reading. Beginning with a description of her schooldays, it lists the family members, people and events that shaped her early life, and the path that led to her becoming a top lawyer and influential First Lady of the United States. Her story reinforces her message that you can do whatever you want if you’re determined, focussed and confident in who you are and what you believe. A fascinating book with something to say to all readers.
Blast off into space like | Part of the inspiring Work It, Girl series, this eye-catching book tells the life story of Mae Jemison, who in 1992 became the first African American woman to go into space. It’s more than just a biography however, because it picks out ten lessons we can all learn from Mae’s life and apply in our own. These include the importance of dreaming big, of asking questions, and of never letting others’ opinions of you determine your future. It’s inspiring stuff, and cleverly laid out to be accessible and properly thought-provoking to all. A final page poses questions so that readers can think about what they’ve learned and how to use the information.
October 2019 Book of the Month | Here’s another inspiring, information-packed picture book in what’s becoming something of a series (see also Great Women Who Made History and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World). It tells the stories of pioneering women who achieved amazing things, often in the face of prejudice or downright hostility from society. There are familiar names – Rosalind Franklin is included – plus lots that are lesser known, but just as fascinating: balloonist Sophie Blanchard for example, and Sarah Breedlove, beauty entrepreneur. Their stories are told through lively, engaging text and pictures, it’s a treat to read. Kate Pankhurst is something of a fantastically great woman herself, and there’s lots for all readers to marvel at and enjoy in this book.
Well laid-out, and packed with information and interactive tests and activities to develop skills and understanding, this is just the book for anyone interested in becoming a pilot. It will tell them everything they need to know about flying helicopters, jets and commercial aircraft, from what the controls on a helicopter do, to the make-up of a jet engine. There are practical projects to try and readers can make a rotocopter or a string radio, and work out how much fuel you would need to pilot a plane round the USA. Once each section is complete, children add a sticker before graduating to the next task. Added extras in this terrific book include a press-out and make model plane. ~ Andrea Reece One of a number of titles in the 'Academy' series. To go to our special 'Academy' series category click here.
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