Book reviews - activity books (page 8)

There are all sorts of activity books available now, some of them featuring characters from well-known children's stories. They can be a very good way to get your child involved with books. This section includes lots of great ideas for entertaining your children at home - many of which will support the work done in school - so do try some of them to encourage and develop your child's creativity. There are also books which involve children as they try to solve the puzzles. 

101 Small Ways to Change the World (Lonely Planet Kids)  by Aubre Andrus

We all have a part to play in saving our world, and this book is full of simple ideas, plenty of which each one of us can apply in our daily lives, to make a real difference. How can an individual have an impact? That may well be your question - or your child's question - are here are the answers, clearly explained into groups of information about caring for others, caring for the planet and caring for ourselves. The ideas are wide-ranging and will make children think about how they behave in everyday life. Random acts of kindness, craft projects, being a volunteer, creating family time, energy-saving ideas and a neighbourhood book swap are just some aspects covered; the range shows how this book has something for everyone.This is a practical, fun and creative book to inspire everyone - it shows clearly how we can all have an impact and this is an excellent approach to empower children and give them confidence. The presentation is excellent - it's lively and friendly and encourages reading.

Cardboard Box Creations (Lonely Planet Kids) by Laura Baker

It's amazing what can be done with a simple cardboard box! In today's world, with its ever-increasing emphasis on sustainability, reusing cardboard boxes makes perfect sense. Welcome to a world of crafting, creativity… and cardboard! Lonely Planet’s Cardboard Box Creations will take you around the globe as you build 20 travel-themed objects, icons and famous landmarks. The book starts with practical guidelines on equipment, and includes clear visual step-by-step instructions for over 20 projects. These include Big Ben, a pizza oven, a New York cab and a spider - what a wonderfully eclectic range! There's also a starter kit of cardboard sheets with cut-out template guides, so children can start creating straight away. Children have always loved being creative with a simple cardboard box, and this super pack is a wonderful way to take that one step further, and to encourage and develop creative skills that will continue to be used. Imaginative and fun, this is a super book.

Project Science by John Farndon

Hands-on - the best way to learn science and to ensure children understand what causes things to happen the way they do. The combination of facts and practical activities supports the KS2 science curriculum and teachers will find many of the activities useful in the classroom. Budding scientists can learn how to make a periscope, crush a bottle using steam and create a fizzy drink explosion. The book is laid out by key topics such as matter, pushes and pulls, electricity and reactions; there is factual information, fascinating facts, step-by-step instructions plus good photos and diagrams. Flaps to lift and a fold-out feature add an extra level of interest. Child-friendly and brightly presented, this is perfect to encourage an interest in science.

Build Your Own Dinosaur Museum (Lonely Planet Kids) by Jenny Jacoby

The museum needs YOUR help! Imagine - they've just received a crate of dinosaur fossils which need assembling - and here they are. There's no time to lose, the museum opens soon and every dino must be assembled and put in the correct room. ready for opening day. There are five altogether - Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Liopleurodon, Pterosaur and T-rex. Dinosaur fans and model makers are going to love this fun interactive book, which also has lots of facts to learn. No scissors or glue needed, simply press out the card peice and slot them together. By the end, children will have a collection of models plus a fact-filled dinosaur book to keep. Unusual and very well presented with lots of diagrams to showcase what we know about these creatures. This is just one in a selection of Lonely Planet Kids books I have recently reviewed - they are all excellent, perfectly written to appeal to children on topics they love, and backed by the excellent resources and reputation of Lonely Planet.

Project Earth by Camilla de la Bedoyere

Project Earth is another non-fiction title from Miles Kelly, who produce some excellent books to support learning. This book takes a hands-on approach which ensures children will be helped to remember what they learn. Planet Earth is described in just the right level of detail for KS2 children, from its inner core to its outer atmosphere. To back up this knowledge, there are 11 clearly explained projects to try, including recreating the Big Bang, generating static electricity, creating tornadoes in a bottle... and even making rock cakes. The learning experience is enhanced by flaps to lift and a centre fold-out page. The book has an excellent index, which helps children navigate the book and return to it when they need specific information. With an array of different ways of presenting information, this is an attractive and easy to use book.

Animals Around the World (My Big Wimmelbook) by Stefan Lohr

Welcome to a new world - Wimmelworld, a land of few words but lots of pictures. These unusual picture books encourage young readers (from 2+) to seek out familiar things from the crowded pictures. In these one-of-a-kind picture books, every spread is a new panorama teeming with life. The first page of each book introduces a unique cast of characters who are hidden in plain sight on the pages that follow. In this book, join the Patel family as they travel the world in search of all sorts of animals. Apart from the first two pages, the book is wordless, giving children the chance to use their imaginations and make up stories based on the vibrant and detailed illustrations which teem with activity. It's a wonderful way to develop story-telling skills - try it in a group, telling cumulative stories.. As children mature, so they will return to the books, seeing new perspectives every time. It's a clever concept.

15 Minute STEM by Emily Hunt

Perfect for parents (including home educators) and teachers, this practical and inspiring book is subtitled: Quick, creative science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities for 5-11 year-olds. STEM activities are high profile and the 40 activities cover a wide range of areas inclduing engineering, chemistry, sound, environment and growth. All the activities are explained in clear steps as well there being explanatory text on the learning covered. The layout is clear and attractive. Of particular note are the links to STEM jobs which feature on every page. There are also extension ideas as well as blank pages to use to create a lasting record. This is a well thought out book, easy to use and practical in application, with enjoyable activities that are well focussed. In today's busy lives, activities that fit into short timescales are highly practical, and these slot well into lessons or busy home lives, making them practical and accessible. An excellent book.

My Heroes and Me by Anna Brett

Children can gain much inspiration from famous people both past and present. Now, with the aid of this fantastic fill-in book, they can record their own aspirations and how these fampous women inspire them. Women from all walks aof life feature, including world leaders, pioneers, sportswomen and many more. To achieve, many of these women rebelled against society and expectations and this book encourages young people to develop theor inner rebel to positive ends. The book is a fascinating compilation of quotes, interactive quizzes, charts, sketching activities and aspirational planning ahead features, along with information about great women. A book which creates a lasting record.

Manes and Tails - Horses and Unicorns (Magic Water Colouring) from Imagine That Publishing

Generations of children have enjoyed magic water colouring but this book is a long way from those soggy pages and rather dull colours. Even better - once the water dries, the colours fade and children can paint them again. Simply paint with water to colour the pictures - the paintbrush is neatly strapped to the cover of the book. The pages are sturdy card so the water does not make them crease, and the spiral binding makes for easy use. There are fun facts on every page, pictures to colour with pencils or crayons and blank pages at the back to extend children's creativity. A clever update on the old favourite, with lovely detailed pictures of horses and unicorns - can your child spot the show jumping unicorn?

Turn Off, Live On by Vincent Vincent

"75 clever ways to switch offline, boost your confidence and unleash your creativity!" - perfect to encourage children (and adults) to look beyond the world of screens. Few of us would want to be without our smartphones and other electronic devices but there is a whole lot we are missing out on with over-dependence. Online activities can result in us feeling anxious, sad, inadequate or lacking in confidence. and this book is the antidote. There are 75 ways here to switch offline, and they can be used effectively by all ages. This neat pocket-sized book is perfect to have with you at any time (just like that ubiquitous phone!), to encourage you to let your creativity have free rein and thereby boosting thinking skills and mental agility. With ideas such as drawing and doodling, writing down positive thoughts and finding the magic that lies within us all, there's plenty to build self-confidence and free us from total reliance on technology. An unusual and fascinating book that really makes you think.

The Unworry Book from Usborne Books

Described as 'An activity book to calm your mind', this is just what children need in an age when life just seems to get more and more stressful, with children increasingly under pressure. Worrying is natural and not a bad thing in itself, but extreme worry takes its toll, so this unworry toolkit is topical and valuable. It's packed with calming ideas and places to put your worries. Activities include creating a worry box, making a mood grid and mindfulness activities such as colouring, doodling and mazes. These are clearly explained, easy to follow and many can be completed in the book itself, giving a record to refer back to. Written with the help of a psychologist, there are links to websites for tips, advice and support. The presentation is colourful, informal and engaging and there are many novel ideas, with plenty for everyone to benefit from.

Usborne STEM Engineering Scribble Book

The best way to understand how problems are solved is through hands-on activities, and that's just what this book offers. Support STEM learning by encouraging children to discover how engineers solve problems in this innovative activity book which is packed with interactive ideas and supported by downloadable templates and links to websites with even more engineering experiments. There are inventions to brainstorm, puzzles to solve and objects to design. The activities require minimal resources and many are paper-based. As well as developing an understanding of engineering, the book also encourages creativity and logical thinking skills through the wide-ranging activities. There are also some mind-boggling facts - such as a bridge made of tape, glue and 90 sheets of paper which could support 2 adult grizzly bears! It's well presented, clear and easy for children to use on their own but also ideal for parent and child working together. It really does encourage children to think about the science behind everyday things and the book will form a lasting record of their experiments.

Crafty Science: More than 20 Sensational STEAM Projects to Create at Home from DK Children

The emphasis being put on STEM/STEAM activities in schools is being reflected in the books currently being published and it's good to see publishing respond to this key subject. Combine this with crafts, which children always enjoy, and it's bound to be a winner. There are over 20 fun-filled projects, and each accompanied by a 'What's the science?' section explaining how it works. Complex topics including buoyancy, gravity and energy are explained and understood through play. The balanced combination of science, crafts and other activities ensure children have fun while understanding the science behind the everyday activities and objects which are all around. It's a good way to support the science curriculum. An excellent book which will answer children's questions and provide many hours of engaging and educational activities to strengthen knowledge and interest.

Castle Adventure Activity Book by Jen Alliston

Castles - the homes of knights and dragons and fairy tale princesses, and a source of fascination to children. Now children can explore castles to their hearts' content, with page after page of dot to dot, spot the difference, colouring, mazes, things to make and jokes to enjoy and much, much more. It's both fun and educational, as children will learn lots about life in medieval castles and about their residents, as well as developing observation skills, fine motor skills, counting, communication and much more. The beautiful, bright illustrations will draw children in and there are pages of colourful stickers too. It's a great way to encourage an interest in history too. Published by Button Books, December 2018, 978187080201.

Ultimate Eye Twisters from Archimedes Laboratory

This is a hard book to put down! Once you start looking through the pages, you will get hooked on the mesmerising variety of optical illusions it contains. This engrossing book contains a bumper collection of crazy and mesmerizing optical illusions and visual puzzles. As the authors say "This book is intended to surprise and entertain, and also to encourage you... to always look beyond what you see." It certainly succeeds in its aim and will give readers of all ages many hours of eye-boggling, mind-twisting fun. The variety is amazing and you'll be glad to know that answers are included if you really can't work things out.

Listful Thinking: List out Your Life from Sterling Children's Books

This attractive fill-in journal is perfect for boys and girls with its blue/green pages and varied patterns. The book guides children to create all manner of lists about every aspect of their life. Make a lists of firsts, write down what you do to relax, choose favourite fictional characters, list your favourite food... it goes on and on with all sorts of lists to make anmd then to look back on in the future. There's plenty of space on each page so this can be an on-going project so children can keep their favourites up to date - I'd recommend making a not of the date alongside the lists to make retrospection more meaningful. It's a great way to encourage children to express themselves in writing and to think about what really matters to them. As they write, kids will discover what matters to them and capture a special moment in time they'll love looking back on later. Published by Sterling Books 9781454932192, December 2018.

Watership Down: The Colouring Book from  Macmillan

This is a high quality colouring book that will give its ownner plenty of pleasure to look back at, even when all the colouring is done - it's a great accompaniment to the book. It's inspired by the recent animation of Richard Adams' classic animal story, Watership Down, first published in 1972. It has now been made into an animated television mini series by the BBC and Netflix, ensuring an upsurge of interest. This charming colouring book version of the story, illustrated with black line images and decorations drawn from the animation, and with captions from the script, will provide hours of delight both for fans of the story as well as for those who simply enjoy beautiful colouring books (especially animal ones); the complexity varies so there's something for everyone. The pictures bring the story to life and will really enhance children's enjoyment and appreciation for the book.

Minecraft The Ultimate Construction Collection Gift Box by Egmont

Wow! This is a fabulous collection to impress any Minecraft fan, and it makes a perfect gift to give them many hours of pleasure. Perfect for children of 7+, the box contains three creative-themed guides that cover how to get the most from Creative mode, including all the how to dos needed plus step-by-step guides to a range of builds - there's medieval castle, and guides to creative build and creative theory. Plus it comes with two press-out models (an iron golem and a snow golem) and a fabulous poster. Perfect for Minecraft fans aged 7+, the set comes in a strong card box with a pull-out drawer which is great to keep for storage, and which makes the set an excellent gift. It's good to encourage creativity and to give an extra dimension for Minecraft fans.

Where's the Llama?: A Search-and-Find Adventure from Egmont

There's lots of fun to be had for all ages in this collection of llama-themed search-and-find pictures. Join Kendrick Llama, No Probllama, Drama Llama and their friends as they travel around the world having funs - if you love puns then you'll love these cheeky creatures! The book is full of colourful jam-packed scenes (which make spotting quite a challenge), fun artwork, exotic locations, quirky characters - and llama puns galore. Imagine - llamas on the beach, at a fashion show, at a skatepark and lots more locations.Find the six cheeky llamas and their six cacti friends in each busy scene throughout the book... it can be quite tricky! Stuck? The answers are at the back of the book. Great fun!

Narwhals: Sticker Activity Book from Egmont

Narwhals are often called the unicorns of the sea because of their long tusks - now children can find out more about these fascinating creatures while having fun with activities and stickers. It's an attractively presented and illustrated book with a magical feel to it and includes over 100 stickers plus jokes, stories, activities and colouring scenes. There's plenty to get children thinking - secret codes, drawing, word search, join the dots, mazes... It's good to see an activity book that includes lots of information - and there are unocorns too!

Little Book for Big Changes: Activities and tips to make the world a better place by Karen Ng and Kirsetn Liepmann

It's really important for children to realise that we can all have an impact on the future of our world. It can seem almost impossible for individuals to have an impact but the little things really do make a difference, as this fascinating and thought-provoking book shows. This book includes over 100 puzzles, games, craft activities, experiments and tips for children aged 7+, and they all have a potential impact on Earth's future. The activities encourage young people to become responsible global citizens, developing understanding, empathy and a sense of responsibility by encouraging them to think about and act on the ideas. Little Book for Big Changes helps young people understand complex global challenges and focuses on the key role today's children will play in tomorrow's society. The ideas are wide-ranging and offer lots of opportunities for children to work together on projects that will have a real impact. Each activity is ably complemented by follow-up ideas. A great way to stimulate discussion and an ideal school resource to give teachers inspiration. It's all engagingly presented too.

Animal Activity Book by Alain Gree

I love Alain Gree's illustrations - they are so child-friendly and full of charm and character; his animal characters are especially lovable. And animals are at the heart of this book with its wide range of activities to stimulate children's creativity and imagination. With over 100 activities (and over 100 stickers too!), children will enjoy mazes, colouring, counting, dot to dot, spot the difference and plenty more stimulating activities that help learning. The pages are clearly laid out, with plenty of white space so children are not overwhelmed by too much busy-ness. The book is about A4 size, giving plenty of scope for the lovely illustrations and keeping it all uncluttered. Fun and educational, children will have plenty of stimulating opportunities for conversation as they enjoy the sctivities and learn about the animal world. Published by Button Books, November 2018, ISBN 9781787080188.

Transport Activity Book by Alain Gree

Another book packed full of engaging activities, all charmingly illustrated by Alain Gree, whose illustrations are instantly recognisable and appealing. Transport fascinates children and there's plenty of familiar vehicles here for children to spot when they are out and about, then talk about when they get home. The book is suitable for 4+ and offers a wide range of activities with plenty of prompts to ensure children get the very best from the book. These books are great value too - they are well produced on satisfyingly bright thick white paper and offer many hours of productive fun, helping with a range of skills including thinking, reasoning, creativity and fine motor skills. Over 100 generously sized stickers are included too - these are really worthwhile and not included just as a gimic; they really enhance the book. Published by Button Books, November 2018, ISBN 9781787080225.

The Secret Woodland Activity Book by Mia Underwood

The whimsical cover of this book will instantly attract children's attention and they will find the theme continues through the book, which is beautifully illustrated to stimulate children's imaginations. Children will love the glimpse into the secret world of the woodland as they enjoy the activities from the comfort of home - there are magical birds, woodland sprites, unicorns and fairies as well as everyday woodland creatures, all wonderfully woven together to take children to an enchanted world. Activities in The Secret Woodland Activity Book include mazes, paper craft activities, colouring, recipes and much more, as well as over 150 really attractive stickers to embellish the pages or to use creatively in other designs. An entrancing and magical book to stimulate the imagination. Published by Button Books, November 2018, ISBN 9781787080263.

Toys and Play with Everyday Materials by Sudarshan Khanna and others

This fascinating book enables the reader to really discover what makes a good toy, by making their own from everyday materials. It makes you think about play, about how children interact with their toys, and how to get the best from them. Based on Indian folk traditions, and with clues, poems and jokes for extra fun, children will find the instructions easy to follow on their own, and they will start to reason on what they are making and why. It's a novel approach and the book makes interesting reading for anyone interested in children and how they play - and, of course, you will be able to create all manner of lovely toys from things lying around the house; these are satisfying and often have as much appeal as shop-bought toys, as they offer a whole new level of satisfaction.

The Grinch: Movie Colouring Book (Grinch Movie Tie in)

The Grinch is Christmas 2018’s guaranteed hit family movie, and so tie-in books are equally guaranteed to be hugely popular. Based on Dr. Seuss’s classic 1957 tale, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and packed with festive fun taken from the brand new animated movie, this book will keep little Grinch fans very happy! This colouring book summarises the story and has relevant pictures to colour - these are relatively simple so that even young children can enjoy the colouring fun.

The Grinch: Movie Sticker Book (Grinch Movie Tie in)

This packed sticker book will keep The Grinch fans very busy as they enjoy all the activities - and perhaps build up anticipation for the film if they haven't seen it already. This bumper sticker activity book is stuffed with Grinchy things to make and do, including puzzles, games, word searches and Christmas decorations. This colourful book also includes plenty of official images from the new animated movie. There is so much festive fun to enjoy.

8 Ways to Draw Deer by Jasmine Isabelle Parker

Indian art traditions lie at the heart of this book, introducing children to a new way of looking at art. Through tracing, patterning and colouring the deer, children learn to explore each of the eight distinctive styles in the book - or just have fun. Children also get to experience and understand how art is as much about the imagination as it is about depiction. The book comes with clear and valuable information on Indian art traditions. This unusual book is an excellent way to encourage children to think about art as well as encouraging their creative skills; the ideas they practise from here will be transferrable to other art work.

Dinosaur Craft Book: 15 Things a Dino Fan Can't Do Without! by Laura Minter and Tia Williams

The talented duo at Little Button Diaries have brought us another book packed with superb crafting ideas... and dinos are a sure-fire winner! With 15 fantastic dinosaur-themed projects to make, The Dinosaur Craft Book will get children crafting and creating in no time; the ideas can be used by children on their own, although adult input will always be appreciated! Recycling is a key focus at the moment, so what better way to support that than by using otherwise-wasted household items. It's a win win! situation. The projects come with handy templates and you can tell that the authors have plenty of experience in crafting with children as the instructions and ideas are spot-on - and grown-ups need little or no crafting experience to help!. The glossy presentation and lovely colour photos make the book even more enticing. Published by GMC Publications, ISBN 9781784944841, November 2018.

Beano Christmas Jumper Activity Book

Perfect to build up to the big day, the Beano Christmas Jumper Book is a festive activity book, packed full of Christmas-themed Beano activities, games, puzzles and stickers. Design a Christmas Jumper for Dennis, play the Christmas Board Game, entertain your family with hilarious Dennis-type corny jokes and complete the festive activities. Try a word search, create your own card, crack the code - so much fun to enjoy. With so many stickers included, there are plenty to use for other things too. It's good to know that the book is published in partnership with Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day.

Unlock Your Imagination: 250 Boredom Busters – Fun Ideas for Games, Crafts, and Challenges by DK Children

Here's the answer to that perennial cry of "I'm bored!" With this fabulous book to hand, there's no need for any child to be bored, whatever their interests or age. Fun facts and rainy day activities abound - and not a screen in sight! Whether you are at home, travelling, visiting or on holiday, indoors or out, if you have this book with you, the whole family will be happy. Children's creativity and imagination will be encouraged by activities such as making slime, paper crafts and putting on a puppet show. creative and use their imagination - make disgusting and colourful slime, create their own TV show, and run a lemonade stand. There are things to do alone, like growing a plant and writing a story; and things to do with friends, including putting on a play and setting up a club. They can train their brains with memory games and fun facts. As if that's not enough, included are everything needed to play draughts, chess and snakes and ladders, neatly packed in a box at the back, ready to pop out the pieces and play. The visual presentation is appealing and will encourage children to browse for ideas; each activity is clearly explained and illustrated so children can enjoy them without needing adult input. This attractive hardback book makes a perfect gift - a good one for grandparents to give a family, perhaps. 250 brilliant ideas, many new and original (and with lots of opportunities to put your own spin on the ideas) - one for the family bookshelf, definitely.

Where's Wally? Games on the Go! Puzzles, Activities & Searches by Martin Handford

Wally's appeal doesn't wane; amazingly, Wally has been entertaining children since 1986. Perfect for on-the-go entertainment, this travel-sized flexi-bound activity book is packed with an amazing array and variety of puzzles, games, searches and activities for all Wally fans. And of course you have to see if you can find Wally and his friends! Some of the puzzles are quite challenging, so children are encouraged to persevere, and there will be great satisfaction when they are solved. This search-and-find book includes a bonus fold-out Wally board game, perfect for Wally-Watchers on the go. A super book which will develop thinking and reasoning skills in a fun way.

The Casebooks of Sherlock Holmes The Cherry in the Cake: And Other Mysteries by Sally Morgan

The world's most famous detective needs your help... yes, yours! Watson is away and Sherlock Holmes needs an assistant to unravel four tricky mysteries. Travel back to Victorian England with Sherlock Holmes and investigate the theft of a priceless jewel in The Cherry in the Cake, solve the mysterious death of the Earl of Monthaven in The Adventure of the Cursed Cartouche, go on a ghost hunt in The Terror of Traymar House and delve into the magic of London in The Adventure of the Vanishing Lord. This is an engrossing book that draws the reader in by offering a series of questions and clues - the evidence is there and the solutions can be worked out. With fascinating illustrations and eye-catching presentation, this is a book that will really refine those detecting skills. Look out for The Casebooks of Sherlock Holmes The Pound of the Baskervilles: And Other Mysteries

Search and Find The Nutcracker and the Mouse King retold by Hannah Pang

This book is based on the original story by E T A Hoffman, and is illustrated by Federica Fenna. The Nutcracker is, of course, a much-loved seasonal story and this abridged retelling makes it suitable for a young audience. Accompanying the text are beautiful detailed search and find scenes where children can find the characters and follow them through the story. There are lots of other objects to spot as well; there are 10 objects and characters to find in each scene and looking for them enhances appreciation for the illustrations. Popular scenes feature Marie and Fritz receiving gifts, the battle between the dolls and the mice and Marie's journey to Candyland. The illustrations offer lots to look at and plenty to talk about and the book as a whole is a lovely introduction to the ballet.

Mother and Daughter Dress-Up Dolls: Costumes From Around the World by Gracie Swan

Dress up dolls have an enduring appeal - I remember loving them! These colourful dolls, illustrated beautifully by Felicityv French, will definitely appeal to today's children. Simple to use - just press out the strong card mother and daughter dolls, then pick one of the lovely traditional costumes for them. The costumes are on thinner card but they are still long-lasting - they attach using the easy fold-down tabs. There are headdresses and accessories to add, and the finishing touch is added by using the colourful stickers which are included. Encourage children to learn about cultures from around the world, including Thailand, Spain, Mexico and India, by reading the interesting text and perhaps doing some additional research. As we expect from Nosy Crow, who always bring us something a bit different, the unusual and appealing element in this book is the combination of mother and daughter dolls. Hours of fun.

This Book is Not Rubbish: 50 Ways to Ditch Plastic, Reduce Rubbish and Save the World! by Isabel Thomas

The current interest in recycling, and especially the focus on the dangers of plastic waste, make this a highly topical book which will definitely be well received. "Covering issues like plastics, pollution, global warming and endangered animals, this is a one-stop guide to becoming an eco-warrior, not an eco-worrier." There are plenty of ideas here and children will definitely be intrigued by titles such as 'Don't hand in your homework', 'Don't Rush to Flush' and 'Eat more chips!'. Many simple changes are suggested relating to parties, clothes, washing up, glitter and plastic bags; see the impact of each on the Planet-o-meter, which shows just how each change helps. Of course, we all have a responsibility to protect our planet, but it's especially important to educate and inform today's young generation, and this book is packed with ideas that will encourage them to think about doing their bit to help save our planet - every little thing counts. An excellent book, and a superb way to stimulate discussion and caring.

Treasure Hunt House: Lift the Flaps and Solve the Clues by Kate Davies

Jill and Ralph have received an exciting invitation from Great-aunt Martha to visit her incredible house. Join them lifting the flaps (which conceal all manner of fascinating historical facts as well as the answers to the clues) and solving the riddles as you explore the wonderful rooms. As the two children explore, they learn about famous historical and cultural objects - instruments in the music room, paintings in many rooms, the history of jeans in the bedroom, a fainting couch in the living room and much more. I did find the flaps quite hard to open without damaging the edges, sadly. Becca Stadtlander is the illustrator; her unusual and appealing style reflects the way children draw and therefore will have immediate appeal. The detail in the pictures gives a great sense of period. A fascinating and unusual book that will encourage a love of history and objects from the past.

 minecraft

MINECRAFT Master Builder: Time Machine by Juliet Stanley

Minecraft is a computer game about placing blocks and going on adventures; it can be used very effectively to stimulate children's imagination and creativity, and that's just what this excellent series from Carlton Books does. Through the pages of this book, children can travel through history, creating their own amazing Minecraft masterpieces. From pyramid to space base, all eras are covered. Each construction is inspired by magnificent buildings and inventions from history. Each is explained and illustrated step-by-step; the projects have three levels of difficulty and there are five sections. With projects covering all time periods, there are plenty to stimulate an interest in history being studied at school. Minecraft facts, figures and trivia add to the interest of the book; there are also hints and tips on how to master the game as well as inspirational profiles of the game's most amazing construction masterpieces. A superb book for existing Minecraft fans and a great way to make new ones. Buy direct from Carlton Books.

The Little Inventors' Handbook by Dominic Wilcox

Stimulate children's bright ideas with this lively and fun book which makes anything seem possible. After all, if people can invent familyb scooters, scarf helicopters, ladybird umbrellas, and ghost wash’n’dry machines, nothing is impossible! The presentation of the book really encourages children to think about why and how we use objects, and how, and in which field, they would like to help. Children are guided through a range of activities which will make them look at everyday and unusual objects in a new light. They will learn about the history of inventions, science, technology, art and design as well. Best of all, as the book is based on littleinventors.org, children can upload their ideas and may see them becoming real. It's a fascinating book, unique in its approach and a brilliant way to stimulate creative thinking.

Maze Quest: Geography by Anna Brett

Carlton Books do come up with many excellent books, and I am reviewing a bumper crop here, with the Minecraft book, STEM Activities and this one. There are 48 mazes as young puzzlers join George and his dog Milly on a journey around the world. Often, we think of mazes are being boring black and white, but these are in full colour with lots of little pictures incorporated, which children are encouraged to spot. Facing each maze is a page of useful information and fascinating facts about the topic. Those topics cities, habitats and famous buildings. Children not only have to complete individual mazes but must also find the correct route around the world by linking the modes of transport on each maze. Children enjoy doing mazes and now they can learn about different paces around the world at the same time. It's a novel idea and a super way to learn about different countries.

Create Your Own Happy by Penny Alexander and Becky Goddard-Hill

There is a key focus in schools on children's well-being, and there is much parents can do at home to support this. One way is to buy this practical handbook for your child. This attractively illustrated and clearly set out activity book empowers children to shape their lives, and the lives of others around them, by taking practical, positive steps towards their own happiness and positive self esteem. It's aimed directly at children, with a wide range of activities to motivate and encourage them. Each topic has suggested activities and encourages children to review progress, as well as explaining why it is effective; this is particularly interesting and will inform parents and teachers as well as children. Today's young people are being encouraged to think for themselves, and to take action, and this book is ideal to support that. Postive, motivating and affirming, this book has so much to offer children, to increase their confidence and to help them to help others.

STEM Activity: Extreme Engineering by Paul Virr

STEM subjects are science,technology, engineering and maths. Teaching uses an integrated approach, making this series from Carlton Books the perfect complement to the curriculum. Engineering can seem a dry subject but this book will excite children's interest with its hands-on approach. Many strands of the science curriculum are covered, including forces, friction and materials. There are over 40 activities; each has an explanatory page plus related activities. Succinct factoids explain the engineering theories, inventors and discoveries behind them, giving children just sufficient background knowledge. Activities include programming the driverless car so it reaches the garage, designing your own skyscraper, decoding Morse code and many more. These really help consolidate children's learning and show the practical value of engineering, encouraging them to see how it affects our daily lives.

STEM Activity: Amazing Maths by Hannah Wilson

Make the KS2 maths curriculum fun for children with this excitingly presented book. It covers all the key concepts, with brief explanations plus activities to enjoy. Children will respond well to the fact that the activities relate to everyday life, helping them to see the relevance and value of maths. All the answers are provided. Topics covered include Roman numerals, multiplication, symmetry, ratios and shapes - plus lots more, with over 40 activities altogether. The lively presentation of this series makes the books totally different from school textbooks, so children will find them appealing and enjoyable - and not view them as just more school work! Often, the perception of maths is taht it's boring - it certainly isn't with this book!

STEM Activity: Sensational Science by Steph Clarkson

Science is all around us and inquisitive children will enjoy the way the book answers their questions. Children can complete the activities directly into the book, straight onto the colourful pages. The books in the series are really attractively designed, with good clear layout and well-deployed pictures. The activities make is easy for children to remember information; the activities are accompanied by scientific facts. The series is also excellent for home educators, who will find the ideas inspiring, easy to use at home, and appropriate to the curriculum - the inter-disiplinary approach works well when teaching at home.

STEM Activity: Terrific Technology by Claire Sipi

As with all the books, the approach is very child-friendly, with facts clearly explained, and relevant supporting activities. The subjects include mechanisms, robotics, computers, gadgets, space exploration and much more, each with linked activities. These are wide-ranging and suit all learning styles. The cross-curricular approach helps children to see how subjects link together, rather than seeing them in isolation; this means they are far less likely to perceive a particular subject as boring or too difficult. The aim of STEM is to encourage children to engage woth these subjects and consider them as careers - this series will really help in that objective, with its engaging approach, plethora of information and engaging activities.

I Am Not A Toilet Roll: The Recycling Project Book (Recycling Project Books) by Sara Stanford

There are 10 projects in this innovative book; the first thing you will spot is that is is engagingly and hilariously narrated by the creations themselves! Recycling is nothing new in the world of children's crafts - but you will be surprised at just what can be made from the simple toilet roll. The book has clear step-by-step guides and handy cutouts to make a shark, a bat, an elephant, a rocket, a pirate, a unicorn, a ninja, a gingerbread man, a castle and a mermaid. You may want to save up your toilet rolls as some take up to eight, but you can make a start as some projects only need one roll. Lovely ideas and a good way to emphasise the inmportance of recycling.

Beano Ultimate Joke Book

This hilarious joke book is filled with the best jokes from the Beano comic book - be prepared to be bombarded with all manner of jokes, from knock-knock jokes to Doctor, Doctor gags and plenty in between. The jokes are divided into categories, so there's something for every occasion, including animal jokes, school jokes, dinosaur jokes, food jokes and much more. More than just a joke book, this is teeming with ideas from the Beano Joke Academy to help children write their own jokes, create their own comic persona and deliver one-liners. "Doctor, doctor, can I have a second opinion? Of course, come back tomorrow."

The Music Man's Songbook by Jon Lawrence

This is a collection of original songs for children written and performed on the accompanying CD by Jon Lawrence. Jon is a Norfolk based writer, musician and teacher who wanted some new songs to perform at the nurseries he visited, so he decided to write his own. They are written to help children understand sounds and numbers and to encourage movement - and to be enjoyed, of course, and I am sure they will be. I was expecting to find the music included though. The lively illustrations by Gemma Wells set the songs off delightfully. Listen to some tracks here. 

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