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Book reviews - non fiction ages 5-7 (page 4)

We have reviewed some of the best new non fiction available. There are so many wonderful books being published now that it can be hard to choose, so take a look at the ideas below and then browse in your local bookshop or library. Many of these books are also excellent classroom/library resources, so there's plenty here for teachers.

The most recent reviews are at the top of the page, so these are generally the most recently published books.

Pilot Ollie & Pilot Polly's Guide to the Airport (Series 2) by Rob Johnson

If you are planning to fly off on holiday with your young family, then this interesting series is just right for you. The approachable combination of fact told in story form is perfect for children of 3+. This story introduces children to the airport, and all the many things they will see going on while they are there; make good use of the book and the information by reading it before you set off for the airport, so children can be informed and reassured. A very enjoyable series - find out more here.

Pilot Ollie & Pilot Polly Come Fly with Us (Series 1) by Rob Johnson

Children will find out exactly what it is like being the pilot of a plane as they follow Pilot Ollie and Pilot Polly through a journey, from arriving at their home airport to reaching their destination. The text is accompanied by full page colour illustrations which give lots of additional detail to look at and discuss along with the story. Throughout the stories, children will meet a whole host of friendly characters, including Chris Controller, Alfie Engineer and Larry Loader - meet them all on the Plane Characters website.

Pilot Ollie's Amazing Adventures Rome (Series 2) by Rob Johnson

Now children have found out about airports and what it's like flying a plane, they can join Pilots Ollie and Polly to discover famous sights from around the world, different weathers, flags and also international foods and cultures, introduced as enjoyable stories with plenty of factual information. The accompanying illustrations complement the stories, giving a real flavour of Rome. There's an extra challenge in each book, with objects to spot in the pictures - in this book, children must look out for the Italian flag.

Pilot Polly's Amazing Adventures New York (Series 2) by Rob Johnson

Join Polly and Ollie as they discover New York in words and pictures, getting a real feel for the city. "Robert Johnson, the author of Plane Characters, had dreamed of flying aircraft from a very early age so at the age of eighteen using money borrowed from his parents he completed his private pilot’s licence. Rob’s career with British Airways started in 1990 and he has been working with aircraft for coming up to twenty five years.  Rob initially wrote the Pilot Ollie and Pilot Polly books for his own children as they were always interested in the places that he had been to and the sights that he had seen. Hence in an effort to share these experiences with his children and also other children with similar enquiring minds he decided to publish them. The books are written to be fun, informative and engaging along with being educational."

Sharks and Other Sea Creatures from DK

Fascinating and fearsome, sharks are an engaging topic for children, and DK have brought us a really good mix of facts and activities in this colourful and informative book. It's full of fun activities, crafts, reading games and amazing facts which really engage readers as they dive into the ocean through the book's pages and meet sharks as well as many other creatures clown fish to starfish to jellyfish--in this educational project book. Perfectly written for young readers, every page has photographs with clear text and simple step-by-step instructions for young readers to follow as they complete each project. How about an egg carton ocean, paper plate clown fish or jolly jellyfish? It's absolutely perfect for classroom project work and children will improve their dexterity, memory, and brain development with each activity. A super book.

The Story of Space: A First Book about Our Universe by Catherine Barr

This colourful and easy to understand book brings to life the story of our universe, in a way that can be readily understood by younger children. The book takes the reader on a vivid and exciting journey back in time to the Big Bang, to see galaxies and stars form, to watch the birth of our planet and how life begins, to join the first man on the moon, and to wonder what mysteries are still waiting to be discovered. It's thought-provoking and children will enjoy having their questions about space answered, as well as having interest stimulated. Friendly characters can be spotted on every page, and these speak directly to the reader, drawing them into the book.

Life on Earth: Human Body: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps! by Heather Alexander

Children are endlessly fascinated by the way their bodies work, so now they can find out the answers for themselves as they explore this fact-filled book. What is the hardest part of my body? How does blood get in and out of my heart? What happens inside my stomach. AS children lift the flaps to explore the answers, they are given plenty of factual information, including some astounding facts they will love to share with their adults. Fully illustrated in bright colours, the simple but informative pictures are perfect for this age group; the layout is clear and ideal too. A super book.

Life on Earth: Farm: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps! by Heather Alexander

Where does milk come from? What are eggs used for? What happens to animals in the winter? These are all questions children ask, and they are answered, along with many more, in this sturdy board book which is designed to give young children many hours of happy discovery. These are the first two books in an excellent new non-fiction series for children aged 5+. Each book answers 100 questions in a simple and informative way, and has more than 70 lift-flaps to open. I am really keen to see children reading and enjoying non-fiction from an early age and the interactive nature of the books means they are bound to appeal and develop an interest in learning.

Forest Life and Woodland Creatures (Practical Facts) from DK

This practical hands-on book introduces children to forest life through fun, educational activities which are easy for children to carry out on their own (although adult supervision is advised - and the fun comes in sharing). Meet cheeping birds, winter wonders, brave bears and all their other forest friends in this fact-filled activity book. Children can learn how to make leafy bugs, a plate nest, a bird feeder, a pine cone owl, bear masks and more; and the practical activities will increase their knowledge of animal life. The book gives an excellent picture of forest life, from day to night and from season to season. Superbly illustrated, with excellent layout for clarity for young children.

Sharks and Other Sea Creatures (Practical Facts) from DK

A book which is presented perfectly for its target audience, the clear layout and excellent illustrations will really capture children's attention and give them a desire to learn. Children will encounter an amazing variety of marine life, including cool clownfish, delightful dolphins, and snappy sharks. Then they can enjoy a range of related activities, including making dolphin bananas, designing pretty paper plate clownfish, creating an egg box ocean (I love this one!) and baking super starfish cookies, all while getting to know the sea's most colourful creatures. These activities are excellent for the classroom too, and will result in some great displays. A perfect example of a really good early non-fiction book which is bound to appeal to and stimulate children.

Amazing Animal Babies by Chris Packham

Children will love finding out about the billions of animals who start their lives every day. Taking us around the globe, the book let us meet some incredible baby animals, including the male frog who guards his babies by scooping them into his mouth, and baby rats who can find their own way home after just two weeks. It's this sort of fact that will fascinate children. The Find Out More section at the back of the book is perfect to stimulate further interest. An excellent source of expert wildlife information for all young nature lovers, this book is superbly illustrated by Jason Cockcroft. Chris Packham's love for nature started from a very young age, and he also presented the BBC's children's series The Really Wild Show, so he knows just how to engage children and how to share his enthusiasm. The book is perfect to interest young children in the natural world, accessible and friendly and really showcasing a wide range of animal life. A lovely book.

Agatha Christie (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Children in KS1 and early KS2 will learn about a range of famous people, and this excellent series from Frances Lincoln fills a gap in the market. The subjects are all inspirational people. What they have in common is that all of them began life as a little child with a dream. Astoundingly, Agatha Christie taught herself to read at the age of five. Children will follow the famous author's life story with the aid of succinct text and enjoyable illustrations.

Marie Curie (Little People, Big Dreams) by Isabel Sanchez Vegara

This book follows one of the most famous of women scientists, Marie Curie, whose love of learning helped her to revolutionise the fight against cancer with her discovery of radium and polonium. This inspiring and informative little biography comes with extra facts about Marie's life at the back. Engaging illustrations are a real feature of the book and they combine with the easy-to-read text to give a good introduction. Check out the rest of this excellent series too.

Follow The Trail Baby Dinosaurs: Take a peek! Fun finger trails! from DK

This series is a brilliant way to introduce young children to non-fiction books. It will really engage their senses and develop key skills as well as giving them a love for books. Throughout the book, young ones will enjoy using their fingers to trace along the glittery, bumpy shiny trails and as they do so, they will be developing early writing skills as the variety of patterns is ideal for this. The pages also include a range of other shape-related activities, as well as peep holes. Every page is packed with life-like dinosaur images really bringing them to life!which are simple and uncluttered, perfect for the age group. Children will find out about the lives of the Allosaurus, the Barosaurus, the Styracosaurus and more in this excellent book.

Follow the Trail Minibeasts: Take a peek! Fun finger trails! from DK

This book covers a popular Early Years theme, so it's a great way to give your young one a head start and stimulating interest in the topic. The informative text is coupled with clear bright illustrations which mean the book is packed with information. The sparkly bumpy finish to the patterns, and the additional activities will really encourage children to follow along, developing pre-writing skills in a fun way. At the end of the book, there are more finger trails to follow to reinforce learning. These well-sized sturdy board books will give young children many hours of inspiring and educational fun - a brilliant way to introduce non fiction books.

Pairs! Underwater by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

This chunky colourful board book is perfect to encourage observation, spotting and memory skills in young children - as well as teaching them about underwater habitats. There are lots of flaps to lift on each page, as children search for matching pairs - can they remember where things were? There are seven die-cut flaps on every spread for little ones to lift to find the matching pairs and spot the odd one out. Lift stones to find turtles, seaweed to find seahorses and shells to find crabs, then answer a simple counting question. There is plenty to keep little ones engaged in this excellent book as they count, spot and talk about what they can see. The pages are really attractive too, with masses of little pictures set on white backgrounds.

Pairs! in the Garden by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

All young ones will be familiar with garden habitats, whether in their own home, or at school or in the local park, so they will respond well to seeing familiar plans and creatures. As they lift the flaps, can they find the matching pairs? A great way to develop those important recognition and memory skills, as well as showing children what can be found in the garden. The colourful and detailed pictures offer lots of opportunities for discussion and further learning - one in a super series which offers a great range of early learning opportunities.

Librarian (Busy People) by Lucy M. George

Great to see a book which focuses on the role of the librarian. Meet Rita the librarian and be surprised at the range of activities she prepares - she has to organise the library's birthday party, as well as finding the perfect story for each child to enjoy reading. Next Steps are included at the back of the book to prompt further discussion and develop vocabulary. The additional information provided is really useful - it shows the type of equipment librarians need as well as other people who work alongside them. This simple and colourful book shows just how much a library has to offer readers and is a good way to encourage young and old to visit the library. Use the book to prepare for a library visit and make sure you enthuse the children in your care for libraries and all they have to offer.

Meat and Fish (Eat Smart) by Vic Parker

It's never too soon to start teaching children about healthy eating and where our food comes from, so this new series for readers of 5+ is very timely. From the farm, to the shop, to your plate, the series helps children learn about where our food comes from and how it helps our bodies when we eat it. The practical activities in Eat Smart encourage young readers to think about food variety, and what they need to put into their bodies to stay strong and healthy; the inclusion of recipes means children can put their learning to good use. Clear and simple text helps explain tricky topics and food fact boxes give entertaining facts in bite-size chunks; the layout is exceptionally good, with lots of variation and attractive enough to capture the interest of even reluctant readers. The Next Steps section at the end of each book is packed with practical ideas which will be welcomed by teachers.

Fruit (Eat Smart) by Vic Parker

We all know about the importance of five-a-day and this colourful book will hopefully encourage children to try out some of the different fruits mentioned. The layout is excellent, with most information set out in clear fact boxes which accompany useful diagrams, photos and maps; it's extremely informative and will help children discover where fruit comes from, as well as how to prepare and eat many different types. Children will often visit a supermarket as part of their school learning; reading and discussing this series beforehand will be a great way to ensure everyone gets the most out of the visit and has plenty of questions to ask. An excellent series.

Camouflage from the American Museum of Natural History

With its super photos, this is a perfect spotting book for young children. After a brief introduction, children are encouraged to spot what's hiding in the wild. The close-up photos show the cleverly concealed creatures - and you do have to look quite hard! Then flap open the page-sized flaps in this board book to see the bigger picture and learn plenty of facts. From the smallest animals to the largest, underwater and on land, creatures all over the world can blend with their environment to stay almost invisible. A lovely way to encourage children to appreciate just how clever the natural world is. Published by Sterling, November 2016, 9781454920793.

Explorers: Ancient Egypt by Jinny Johnson

Ancient Egypt is possibly one of children's favourite history topics as children are fascinated by the pyramids and by mummies. Of course, there is much more to discover this fascinating ancient civilisation and this book provides an excellent introduction. From everyday life to the lives of pharaohs, lively, dramatic artwork scenes depict people and places through photos, drawings and artefacts. Factual information is interwoven with the text, using a well-sized font ideal for young readers. Each scene is followed by a photographic information spread that gives a wealth of extra detail. The presentation is exceptionally good, making reading a pleasure. "Kingfisher Explorers are designed to appeal to all readers who are just starting to read alone, and more confident readers who are beginning to exercise wider reading and cross-referencing skills."

Explorers: Amazing Animals by Jinny Johnson

Amazing animals from all around the world are depicted in clear photos accompanied by easy to follow and informative text. This series from Kingfisher is an excellent first information series - each book has all the attributes of a good reference book, teaching children important skills about being independent learners and doing their own research. The illustrated contents pages set out the main headings. Alongside is a factual section called 'More to explore'; this explains that there are coloured buttons throughout the books, with each belonging to a different topic. By following the buttons through the book, readers will make their own discoveries at the end of the books. In this book, the buttons are conservation, animal champions, habitats and plants. This is a really good way to involve children in the book, allowing them to follow their own interests and giving them the satisfaction of finding out for themselves. It would also be a good teaching resource, with children working in small groups to follow each trail.

Explorers: Weather by Deborah Chancellor

Weather is a common subject for conversation - encourage your child to read this book and they will be able to explain some of the weather patterns we see. Much of the book looks at the weather we experience in this country but there's plenty of information about events children will hear about on the news - tornadoes, hurricanes and cyclones. The excellent reference value is continued by the labelled scenes; numbers on the pictures are accompanied by explanatory text which helps children to understand and explain what the pictures show. A comprehensive index is found at the end of each book - us this to help children develop research skills. A colourful and enticing book.

Explorers: Dinosaurs by Dougal Dixon

Through the pages of this colourful book, young readers will explore Jurassic landscapes inhabited by fierce meat-eaters, sneaky scavengers and gentle giants. The lively artwork scenes really draw children into the book - the scenes contain lots to spot and to stimulate children's curiosity, with depictions of not just dinosaurs but also reconstructions of the landscapes they inhabited.Usefully, the index also includes pronunciation of the names. The buttons in this book lead children to learn more about food and feeding, science, dinosaur lives and nature.

Explorers: Things That Go by Clive Gifford

The buttons are an excellent device for young readers, as they lead them to additional information without the pages becoming overful with text. In this book engine power, safety first, science and people are the topics to discover and follow through the book. Visually, this is a most attractive series, with plenty of photos and other illustrations; each two page spread has a toning coloured background which clearly differentiates the text, and the scenes, for example the race track in this book, really bring the topic to life, encouraging further exploration.

Explorers: Big Cats by Claire Llewellyn

Big Cats is an adventure to discover the secrets and stories of these amazing mammals, from lions in the savannah to snow leopards in the mountaintops, meeting big cats all over the world. The vibrant presentation and superb photography really does justice to these magnificent beasts, encouraging children to develop their interest. This is an excellent series of non-fiction books for KS1 pupils, as well as for less confident readers in KS2. It is so good to see good quality reference books for younger children, and a great way to encourage them to enjoy fact books.

The Museum of Me by Emma Lewis

A  little girl sets off on an exciting journey of discovery to find out what museums are and what they have inside them. It's a wonderful way to enthuse children for visiting museums, which children can (mistakenly) perceive as boring. She makes all manner of exciting discoveries, including giant bugs and peculiar beasts, ancient pots and contemporary paintings, feathery leaves and flowers as big as her own head! As she explores, she marvels at how many different museums there are - old and new, indoors and outdoors. But the best of all is her very own museum, with her own special things. And the best bit if this book? The spaces at the back for children to write about their own special things "The Museum of Me" celebrates how a collection of objects can reflect our identities. It would make a marvellously inspirational basis for a classroom topic.

Ada's Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World's First Computer Programmer by Fiona Robinson

Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron and Anna Isabella Milbanke, a mathematician. Her parents separated when she was young and her mother insisted on a logic-focused education, rejecting Byron's love for poetry. However, Ada was hugely influenced by her father's poetry and considered mathematics to be poetical science. Through her friendship with inventor Charles Babbage, she became involved in programming his Analytical Engine, a precursor to the computer, thus becoming the world s first computer programmer. This picture book biography of Ada Lovelace is a compelling portrait of a woman who saw the potential for numbers to make art. It's a fascinating account of a woman who was not constrained by the mores of Victorian society; one who charted hew own course, making her a powerful example for all women. The richness of the illustrations convey the mathematical sense of order at the heart of Ada's work.

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