Book Reviews - General Knowledge and Fascinating Facts

We are often asked for books to help with General Knowledge, so here is a selection of recently reviewed books. I have also included here some books on facts and general information - all ideal for quizzes. Take a look at our non fiction section too.

General Knowledge

My Illustrated Encyclopedia by Alain Gree

Children know and love Alain Gree's gprgeous child-friendly illustrations, and they will love to discover more of them in this colourful early encyclopedia. Button Books have been publishing a super range of Alain Gree books, and this is the largest and most comprehensive title published to date. This encyclopedia covers a varied range of subject areas which will appeal to children. Flowers, river wildlife, mountains, farming, the garden, roads, energy and space are just a few of the topics included. The illustrations are perfect for young children, being simple, colourful and informative; they offer plenty of opportunity for discussion and give a springboard for further learning. A hardback book which will interest children for many years. Published by Button Books, November 2017, ISBN 978-1908985965.

DK Children's Encyclopedia

The internet should never replace a good home reference library, and one of the cornerstones of that will be a high quality illustrated encyclopedia. This new edition of DK's highly successful Children's Encyclopedia fits the bill perfectly. With DK's name behind it, you can be absolutely certain of its reliability and assured of top quality layout and illustrative material. This new version has been brought right up to date, with a major investment in new content. The publishers recommend the book for 7 - 9 year olds, but I think a far wider age range will use it. Just to show the huge range covered - there are 240 topics, 1500 facts, 1800 index entries, 1200 cross references, 120,000 words, all across 304 pages. Colour coding makes it simple to use. A valuable feature re the double page story spreads which explore subjects in a cross-curricular way - good to encourage children to see topics in a wider context. The extensive use of cross-referencing will draw children in and onwards, to keep exploring. Attractively packaged in a slipcase, this is an ideal gift. Highly recommended.

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things from DK

Young children have an almost endless thirst for knowledge, and this colourful encyclopaedia from DK will satisfy the most avid of learners. The book is split into five main sections - my planet, places, animals, people and me; it's easy for children to navigate, with coloured tabs on the side of the pages that can be used to locate the sections (there's a bookmark to help, too). The final section is packed with fascinating facts; a real lucky dip of knowledge. Every page is full of fun facts, all beautifully illustrated with colour photos and diagrams, well and clearly labelled; the language is carefully chosen to be appropriate for beginner readers, and information is broken down into manageable chunks. Games and stories games will feed a child's imagination and satisfy their thirst for knowledge in a fantastic way. The book supports the National Curriculum, and children will find facts and information are easy to read, learn and understand. A simply superb first encyclopaedia that will set children on the pathway to learning and discovery. Supporting the national curriculum and providing all the information young minds need and much more, Bursting with knowledge and loads of very important things to set young minds alight.

Picturepedia from DK

DK are almost unbeatable in the field of encyclopedias and this volume is no exception. It holds a fascinating array of facts and is equally valuable for specific research or for dipping into in order to add to your general knowledge. Through the picture-filled pages of this book, readers young and old can explore the wonders of history, space, the natural world and more. With over 10,000 stunning photographs and illustrations, it's a visual treat. The six main sections are Science and Technology; Nature: Geography; Culture; Sports and Hobbies and History; within those, a double page spread is devoted to individual topics. From astonishing insects and outer-space to musical instruments and fascinating animals, Picturepedia explains every topic under (and including) the Sun. Uncover the secrets of prehistoric life using photographs, explore the human body through graphics and discover galleries of musical instruments in Picturepedia. The wealth of information will keep everyone enthralled; there's plenty here to help with homework and children will find the presentation so enticing that they will inevitably browse through the other pages. A brilliant book for a home reference library.

Geography: A Children's Encyclopedia by John Woodward

Billed as a children's encyclopaedia, I think there is more than enough information here to interest all ages - and certainly to give a start at understanding all aspects of geography. Despite the internet, there is still a very real benefit in having a beautifully produced physical book like this, with its stunning photography and easy to use layout - it really encourages you to pick it up and browse. The book is divided into colour-coded sections - Planet Earth; Rocks and Minerals: Water; Climate and Weather; Life on Earth; The Human World; Mapping the World; Country Factfile. It's ideal to support geography at KS2 and KS3 and equally useful as a family reference book.

Big Book of Knowledge from Dorling Kindersley

The content makes this an ideal first reference book, it is clearly laid out and easy for children to navigate with its colour-coded sections - earth and space; the natural world; the human body; how people in the past lived; the arts and entertainment; science and technology. It's Dorling Kindersley so of course it is highly visual - full of colourful pictures and illustrations, with clear notes and fun facts. My one reservation about this book is that it is 'big' in terms of the huge amount of information it contains; it is rather small in size for my liking as a book for young children - I had a previous edition for my children which was a much more generous physical size, more suited to the age group. That doesn't detract from the wealth of information though, and the value of having a simple reference book on hand for the family and encouraging children to do their own research.

The Kingfisher Children's Encyclopedia

It's hard to cover such a comprehensive work in a short review! There are nearly 500 pages packed with a wealth of valuable information. Despite the availability of everything online, there is still a very important place in every home and school for a good quality encyclopedia and here you have one. Whether you are researching a particular topic or just fancy brushing up on general knowledge, this is eminently readable and informative for all ages. The information is presented in manageable chunks for younger readers and sufficiently detailed to interest older ones. It is generously provided with illustrations, superb photos, well labelled diagrams and detailed maps. The layout is clear, with good use of headings, fast facts boxes and links to other related information. Over 50 experts have been consulted in the production, ensuring information is accurate and up to date.A real joy to browse and a wonderful gift book.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy by Steve Martin

I've said it before, but have no hesitation in repeating it - Buster Books produce some fascinating books! And here is another one - perfect to dip into and while away a few minutes... or hours! We all need a bit of help with our memory at times, and this is packed with fascinating ways to help remember almost anything. There are old favourites here but lots of brand new mnemonics and rhymes too, on topics as varied as art, buildings, plants and space. The cartoon-style illustrations add to the enjoyment, too. There are also other useful learning techniques plus memory games to play. Often, we are asked how parents can help their child develop memory, concentration and thinking skills - I will be recommending this book (for adults as much as for children)!

The World's Fastest, Spookiest, Smelliest, Strongest Book by Jan Payne

... and Buster Books again! This time it's a huge amount of information about the fastest, brightest, longest, funniest ... things in the world. This entertaining read takes you from the highest peaks to the murkiest depths, from the fastest man to the slowest sloth. I enjoyed reading about the dumbest criminals, the foulest fashions and the most ingenious spyware - there really is something for everyone. Again, it's a great book to dip into when you have a few minutes to spare, and you are guaranteed to come up with some ideas for dinner-party conversations!
 

Ask Me Anything from Dorling Kindersley

Subtitled 'Every fact you ever wanted to know', this is the perfect book for lovers of trivia, and anyone who enjoys amazing others with a wide range of information on almost anything. Here are just a few questions, to illustrate the variety of fascinating topics covered - Why don't haircuts hurt? Can a car run on chocolate? Where does Europe end? What's the connection between a slug and an octopus? These intriguing questions are just a taster, so I hope they encourage you to take a look at this fact-filled book. It is crammed with information, with Dorling Kindersley's trademark exceptional photos and diagrams forming an integral part of the book. Ideal to have around when you have visitors - never a dull moment! 

 Fascinating Facts

Don't Wipe Your Bum With A Hedgehog by Mitchell Symons

Definitely a title which will appeal to children's sense of humour! Another collection of gems from the ever-inventive Mitchell Symons - You can't trust a dog to watch your food.; Why buy shampoo when real poo is free?; Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, as you won't have a leg to stand on; And if getting even doesn't work, then just get odd! It's clever and it's funny... and it's also very true!

Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders - British

History as you've never seen it before! Written in Tony Robinson's trademark quirky style, this is presented with lots of cartoons, call outs, fact boxes and other ways to make the information fun. Books like this are a great way to make history fun for children (and adults!) and give a great opportunity to start discussions and go on to do further research. The chronological writing (with the bulk of the book focus sing on the 17th century on) gives children a good picture of how out nation has developed over the years and helps put isolated sections of history into context. This makes it excellent to support KS2 history.

What Gives an Ocean Motion? from Dorling Kindersley

A pocket sized book, perfect for taking out and about and ideal for whiling away a long journey. This is packed with fascinating facts about our planet, and I can almost guarantee you will be saying 'I never knew that...'. There are more than 1100 questions, graded into pages for easy, medium and hard, so this is a great book for all the family or for quiz-setters. Topics include rocks, deserts, plants and animals and lots more. There are 20 questions on each topic and an interesting reference section at the end. The answers are included, of course!

A Drove of Bullocks: A Compilation of Animal Collective Nouns from PatrickGeorge

What a fascinating series! They took me quite some time to review, because I just had to read every page. I have long been fascinated by collective nouns and I have never before come across such a comprehensive series. I realise these are reissues, but I was not previously aware of the series. The new format is extremely attractive - almost A4 in size and in full colour. Each animal and its collective noun is depicted on a two page spread with some fascinating illustrations which cleverly reflect the collective noun - for example, a 'train of camels' depicts a train climbing a hump/hill.

A Shiver of Sharks: A Compilation of Aquatic Collective Nouns from PatrickGeorge

Many of these will be familiar but I am sure there will be at least some that are new to you. Each has an interesting anecdote - for example, if you get stung by one of a 'fever of stingrays' you will land up with a fever; you may see a 'raft of sea otters' lying in raft-like formation at night. Collective nouns really are clever - they tell us so much about the creature and so many of them trip of the tongue - a 'turn of turtles', a 'battery of barracudas'. I think my favourite has to be the last in the book - a 'galaxy of starfish' shown shining in the sky.

A Filth of Starlings: A Compilation of Bird Collective Nouns from PatrickGeorge

The cover illustration shows a 'filth of starlings' perched in a tree using some very expressive language - "$*?#&!" !Take time to look at each illustration and appreciate the subtlety of its link to the collective noun - the 'descent of woodpeckers' and a 'murder of crows' (who have obviously been playing Cluedo!) particularly appealed. These books really extend the imagination and I hope will encourage children to come up with their own designs to illustrate collective nouns, or to invent their own collective nouns - it would make a great classroom project!

A Crackle of Crickets: A Compilation of Insect Collective Nouns from PatrickGeorge

Yet more hours of fascination for all lovers of our language. In KS2, children study collective nouns - let them amaze their teachers with the multitude of collective nouns here. Using collective nouns is a great way to brighten up creative writing and these books are full of inspiration to encourage that. Some of the unusual ones in this volume are a 'hatch of fleas', a 'pail of wasps' and a 'ghost of gnats'.

The Girls' Miscellany by Lottie Stride

This (and its companion The Boys' Miscellany) is a typical Buster Books publication. They produce books which are excellent for dipping into and picking up all sorts of (sometimes useless, but always fun) information. There are also questions to answer and conundrums to solve which will give girls plenty to ponder over. Here's an idea of the range of topics covered - types of coffee; shells; ballet; the meaning of flowers; a history of pens.... and that's just a taster! It's a fascinating compilation which will give hours of pleasure, and all complemented by the amusing illustrations.

The Boys' Miscellany by Martin Oliver

Boys may not realise it yet, but these are the things they really need to know! Another fascinating compendium of information, ranging from space spin-offs to Egyptian explorers, via how to pack a suitcase, where to go scuba diving and how to make a million. There are plenty of gruesome facts to appeal to boys too! It's entertaining and easy to read - excellent for reluctant readers who will find this a great book to dip into, and then they will be encouraged to continue reading to make sure they don't miss out. The cartoon drawings are super fun too and a real addition to the fun of this book. Once they have read these books, boys and girls will have plenty to talk about!

Animal Quiz Cards by Simon Tudhope

Hours of fun for the family with over 500 questions about all sorts of animals. With 10 questions on each card, it's fun to ask one or two on each topic before moving on to the next. Definitely Deadly; Creepy Crawlies; On the Farm and Down Under are just a few of the varied topics. There is a wide range of different types of questions, including multiple choice, true or false, odd one out, and what am I? This keeps the quiz fresh and interesting. The cards are good sized and will withstand plenty of use, and they are very attractively illustrated with full colour backgrounds. I am quite sure that everyone will learn some new, and possibly surprising, facts.

 

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