Book reviews - non fiction ages 7-11 (page 2)

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, including many books from Hachette (Hodder, Wayland, Orchard Books and Franklin Watts).

 

The Story of the Second World War by Paul Dowswell

I found this an excellent and succinct introduction to The Second World War - very readable and with a surprising amount of information; as the title implies, it is a story and the narrative style makes for this easy reading experience. I read it avidly and learnt a lot from it. Published in association with the Imperial War Museums, it examines the causes of the war and its great battles and catastrophes. The human aspect is well covered too - how the war affected nations and people all over the world.The illustrations are wide-ranging including contemporary photos and posters, cutaway drawings, charts and maps and many, many coloured drawings depicting all aspects of the war.

How Your Body Works by Judy Hindley

An Usborne classic which comes in a new edition, with new illustrations by the original illustrator, Colin King. The best feature must be the fascinating drawings of imaginary machines which have been specially created to show how the body works - there are the robots who show how the muscles work and how bones fit together, there's the teeth and tongue machine, a map of big toe city and many more. These amusing and fact-filled illustrations are memorable and help children retain information. The book gives an excellent coverage - all that KS2 pupils need to support their study of the human body for the science curriculum.

Walking With Dinosaurs Handbook (Walking With Dinosaurs Film) by Calliope Glass

Based on the epic motion picture, Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie, due for release in December 2013, this fact-filled story is a great complement to the film. Alex, the Alexornis, narrates the tale of a young Pachyrhinosaurus called Patchi as he embarks upon the great migration. Packed with dramatic illustrations, this is a sure winner for all dinosaur fans. The story is interspersed with plenty of facts about dinosaurs.

Cool Maths: 50 Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages by Tracie Young

This is a super approach to maths, presenting key facts in an easy to understand and fun way which is bound to increase children's confidence. For some children, maths can seem a closed book but this engaging approach makes the subject much easier. From core curriculum techniques such as multiplying multiples to calculating calculus and probability and division, right through to working out tricky statistics, formulas and equations, Cool Maths present information in a memorable way. It makes maths seem far less daunting, with titles like 'Don't be so negative', 'Divisibility rules OK' and 'How to tip'. Real life scenarios show us just why maths is so vital. An excellent book.

Cool Science Tricks: 50 Fantastic Feats for Kids of All Ages by Daniel Tatarsky

Young or old, science fascinates us all and this is a book with something for everyone. 50 experiments which can be carried out at home with simple everyday equipment demonstrate all aspects of science and help children understand just why things happen. Hands-on - the best way to learn and remember. Try the effervescent rocket, dancing matches, bending light and much much more. The science behind each activity is explained and the book is illustrated throughout with entertaining cartoons. Sensibly, the book indicates where adult help is needed. An excellent way to stimulate an interest in science and to reinforce learning - keep it handy to support work done at school.

Walter Tull's Scrapbook by Michaela Morgan

Kentish born Walter Tull was one of Tottenham Hotspurs' top players, who joined the Footballers' Battalion during the First World War - and of course, was one of those who played in the famed Christmas Day football. He was a courageous and inspirational leader - a black officer at a time when the rule book stated that only white men could become officers. This book is based on his personal writings, photos and pictures and gives a fascinating insight into a man who broke across boundaries. In an age when we still find prejudice on and off the playing field, this book conveys an important message - one we must heed. The atmosphere of the First World War is vividly evoked and this book will complement studies of the period by giving a personal view of events. Sadly, Walter Tull died on the Somme.

Very Wonderful, Very Rare - Saving the Most Endangered Wildlife on Earth (One Shot) by Marilyn Baillie

The richness of life on earth and the danger of extinction which faces many species is the focus of this book. It introduces children to some of the most endangered species on Earth, from the pygymy sloth to Attenborough's pitcher plant. It shows what scientists and indeed all of us can do to help and gives encouraging accounts of species brought back from the brink of extinction. Large, spectacular photos  capture the attention and show why our wonderful wildlife is worth saving. An important issue and one which we all need to know about.

Frightful First World War (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary

It's an amazing 20 years since the first books in the enduring popular Horrible Histories series was published - 20 years since a whole new style of children's non-fiction books began. Now some are being reissued in a different format, revised by the author to make the books even more accessible to young readers, and just as enjoyable as ever. So many children have gained an enthusiasm for history through this series, it's just brilliant. Readers can discover all the foul facts about the FRIGHTFUL FIRST WORLD WAR, including what the 'Fat King' did with food scraps and dead horses, how sniffing your own pee could save your life in a gas attack and why a pair of old socks gave away top German secrets. The new look is very successful, better spaced and easier to read. Light-hearted and fun but packed with facts.

The 100 Weirdest Facts Ever by Clive Gifford

A truly fascinating collection of trivia! One of those books that has you thinking' I don't believe that' but they are all true! Be prepared to be bombarded with facts when children read this book. It's a lot more than just a list of facts, though - there is background information for every one and masses of good quality colour photos. Wide ranging, the book includes science, biology, history, the arts, technology and general knowledge. Here's just one (or two) - Panama hats didn't come from Panama and Danish pastries didn't come from Denmark! A great book to dip into whenever you have a few minutes to spare and adults will find it as fascinating as children do.

How to Take Fabulous Photographs by Jenny Bidner

This is a good basic introduction to digital photography. It book cuts through the jargon and tells the reader all they need to get started in this fascinating hobbyand how to produce good photos, whether of people, animals, pets or landscapes - whatever appeals. It encourages the young photographer to be creative about pictures with lots of practical and easy suggestions that will make photos stand out. Key skills, top tips and did you know boxes all enliven the text and there are, of course, lots and lots of photos to show what can be done. Easy to read and enjoyable - and encouraging.

The Book Of Space: All About Stars, Planets and Rockets! by Clive Gifford

All children really need to know about space, neatly packaged into one book. I was amazed at the amount of information it contains - quite small (but very clear) font means the maximum amount of information, and there are plenty of neat diagrams incorporated whenever additional explanation is needed - these would be perfect for school topic work, with their clear labelling. There are also plenty of more light-hearted illustrations and the whole book is written in a very readable way. Even aliens have their place in this informative book.

Make it Grow (Whizzy Science) by Anna Claybourne

Grow plants on tissue paper, make dough double in size and grow your own crystals. The best way to understand science is through hands-on experiments and the reader is guided step-by-step through great crafty experiments at the same time as understanding the science behind the growth of materials and living things. The suggestions would work equally well at home or at school - the materials needed are easily obtainable and the instructions clearly laid out. Make a black bag balloon, grow crystals and find out what happens when you microwave a marshmallow.

Ladybird Histories: First World War from Ladybird Books

A bright and attractive way to present history for children learning about the First World War at school. Starting with the reasons for the war, it looks at life in the trenches, the countries that took part, where the battles took place and how the war changed the lives of people around the world. It's a highly readable account which covers all the basic facts that children at this age need to know, presented in a stimulating manner which will encourage them to do further research. Illustrated with plenty of colourful drawings which give a good flavour of what happened and add to the information to be learnt.

The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon

A wonderfully written exploration of the history of Britain in a narrative style which will grip children's attention with its high quality writing. It gives an excellent chronological overview (1066 to today, with an introduction to earlier times) which addresses the concern many have about the curriculum taking history out of context. The practical timelines help with this process. The accounts are really good for reading aloud and will enthuse children for history. My only concern with the book is that today's children have come to expect a high level of pictorial content and they may find this book less appealing than many - although the illustrations that are there are high quality and informative, I would like to see more. Nevertheless, this is an ideal book to use alongside school studies of history and children will thoroughly enjoy the high-quality story telling.

Bone Collection: Animals by Rob Colson

An intriguing and unusual book showing animals from the inside out. A huge variety of different creatures from fruit bats and frogs to alligators and apes as you have never seen them before. This amazing book features a fantastic selection of skeletons and fun facts about animal behaviour and habitats. You will really appreciate the wonderful design and gain a better understanding of how these creatures survive as well as learning lots about each creature.

Horrid Henry's World Records by Francesca Simon

A book which falls between two stools - it's part non-fiction with lots of Guinness-type world records, but partly fiction (at the risk of insulting Henry!) with some rather less credible records, such as the best burping - held by Henry, of course! The facts are interspersed by lots of Henry's own observations and there are plenty of amusing cartoons too. Children will love this - it's full of fun and Henry's comments are hilarious. Split into sections like all the best record books, this includes Food Glorious Food and Top Terrors.

The National Archives: The Great Fire of London Unclassified: Secrets Revealed! by Nick Hunter

This is an excellent series which is equally valuable for KS2 pupils studying the Tudors and KS3 pupils who need to learn how to use original source material. Based on material held by the National Archives, we learn how Londoners lived in fear and that 1666 was prophesied to be a doom-laden year. Could the fire have been prevented? From the outbreak of the fire at a bakery on Pudding lane, to fire fighting techniques and meddling Lord Mayors, The Great Fire Unclassified takes readers on a journey back in time to uncover the true story behind London's most destructive ever fire. Contemporary artefacts and documentation enable readers to build a true and real account of the Great Fire, life in London during the time and its impact on the city we know today - there is so much more here than just the fire itself. A timeline puts events into context and there is a useful glossary and comprehensive index.. Readers are really encouraged to examine the well-illustrated material and will gain a genuine understanding of the period. A superb way to encourage investigative minds.

Animals in Wales (Factfile Cymru) by Elin Meek

'Factfile' sounds a bit dry and perhaps doesn't quite do justice to the nature of these books. This is an excellent series, packed with photos to illustrate a wide range of facts. It's full of bite-sized information about the biggest, smallest, ugliest and cutest animals in Wales - farm animals, pets and land mammals. A collectable series with much to interest adults as well as children. Stimulating layout will encourage browsing and there are facts, Q&As and vocabulary for every creature - the photos are really good and the text is laid out in a series of boxes and bullet points to break it up and make it highly accessible. For anyone who loves quirky facts, this is a great series.

Homeland Wales (Factfile Cymru) by Elin Meek

I love the presentation of this series, from the eye-catching shiny binding to the high quality page layout - the generous A4 size allows lots of information to be presented. Find out all sorts - Wales is home to the annual bog snorkelling championships, Wales has it's own lake monster, there are 1497 miles of public footpaths in Snowdonia. Particularly good for visitors to Wales, to help them learn more about this fascinating country. The series includes plenty of record-breaking information to interest all fans of the Guinness Book of Records. A really interesting series and I thoroughly enjoyed these two books - I hope there will be more to come!

Sports Cars (Motormania) by Penny Worms

A highly readable book which will appeal to all car enthusiasts. Find out just what it takes to make a first-class sports car with this mix of facts, stats and amazing full-colour photography. Full of fascinating snippets - did you know that the maker of one car claims it could be driven along the roof of a tunnel? Or that there is a manufacturer who creates their cars specifically for every customer? An entertaining and informative read. The Motormania series gives an overview of some of the most thrilling vehicles on modern roads and racing tracks.

Predators (Smart Kids) by Roger Priddy

Good early reference books like this are ideal for encouraging young children to enjoy finding out and learning from books. Each page has a superb photo of the predator as the background amd superimposed on this are information, killer facts and predator scores; essential facts about each animal, including size, habitat and preferred prey are included. The landscape format makes the book just that little bit different and the format is used well to layout the information in an eye-catching and accessible manner. There is a useful glossary but I would like to see a contents page and index to help children develop research skills and locate their favourite animals.

Gerbils and Hamsters (Pets Plus) by Sally Morgan

Pets Plus is a series which goes beyond the normal pet books which discuss the pet and caring for it at home. That does, of course, form a large part of this book but there is also lots of information about the animals in the wild; it would be good to read books in the series when deciding what sort of pet to choose. This is interesting and also, by giving an insight into the creature's natural environment, helps an understanding of how best to care for them. Gerbils and hamsters are popular pets and this colourful book, lavishly illustrated with colour photos, gives an introduction to caring for them as well as helping children to learn about them in the wild.

Keeping Clean (Being Healthy, Feeling Great) by Kate Purdie

This is one in a series of books which covers key health topics in a sensitive and clear fashion. These are important topics and often children find it easier to read about them than to discuss them, making this series excellent for school libraries and classrooms. This title encourages children's understanding of good personal hygiene is vital and how it can be achieved. Illustrated with colour photos throughout, this is practical and down-to-earth, addressing many common issues.

William Shakespeare (Extraordinary Lives) by Peter Hicks

An accessible and interesting book to introduce KS2 children to Shakespeare. When children know what lies behind literary works, it's easier for them to understand and enjoy those works, so ensure they have good background knowledge with this book - it's also a good resource for studies of the Tudors and early Stuarts, with its wealth of contemporary detail. Its presentation is really well thought out, with the coloured backgrounds and carefully integrated illustrations. From Shakespeare's early life in Stratford--upon-Avon, we are taken to London where we learn much about life in the capital./td>

The Second World War (Usborne History of Britain) by Henry Brook

As we expect from Usborne, this book packs in a huge amount of detail, but the good layout ensures the material is easy to read. The book takes us from the lead up to the war to its aftermath, covering events at home and abroad. It is full of intriguing facts, illustrations, photographs, detailed reconstructions, paintings, maps and photographs. The range of illustrative material is particularly good as it is extremely varied and reflects the period well. The book includes links to websites to find out more information via the Usborne Quicklinks website as well as a list of places to visit throughout Britain.

Basher Science: Extreme Biology by Dan Green

This is a very accessible series which young readers will thoroughly enjoy. The presentation is unusual, with a series of characters introducing themselves and explaining in clear simple terms exactly what they do. Meet them all at the beginning of 'their' chapter and go on to find out more. Each character has its own illustration and these alone are full of intriguing detail to aid the memory. The content is surprisingly deep and there is plenty to be learnt, albeit in a fun fashion that children will love.

Basher Basics: Creative Writing by Mary Budzik

Creative writing doesn't come easily to many children but here is a fun way to inspire them. Sections include What's the story - all about different genres; Scene setters are the 'bones' of the story; Schemers and dreamers provide the 'fleshing out' and then children learn about the characters and language that make a good story. These succinct chapters are ideal for focussing on key points and provide an excellent basis for story writing. The illustrations help children to remember the suggestions and the whole book is a very enjoyable and instructive read.

World War II (EDGE: Mad, Bad and Just Plain Dangerous) by John Townsend

This is such a fun way for children to learn - and it's all true! Which mad weapons were actually used during combat? Who was the bad guy in charge of the Nazi German air force? Which dangerous mission helped to capture the Nazis' new tank? Find out the answers to these questions inside, along with lots of facts and quizzes - these are good for class use. There are lots of weird and wonderful facts which children love - whoever heard of rat bombs? Despite the lightheartedness, there is plenty here to be learnt.

Victorians (EDGE: Mad, Bad and Just Plain Dangerous) by John Townsend

The same treatment is given to the Victorians, another topic studied in KS2. Once again, children are treated to an array of almost unbelievable facts - men wore corsets, a stamp licker was invented and people could be hung for stealing from a rabbit warren. Illustrated throughout with entertaining cartoon drawings, this is a great way to show children that history can be fun.

Poo! What IS That Smell?: Everything You Need to Know About the Five Senses by Glenn Murphy

A refreshing look at the five senses which actually contains a surprising amount of scientific information, presented in an appealing format and in a way which will help children to remember the facts. The amusing illustrations by Lorna Murphy will help children remember what they have learnt.We all need to know about the senses and it's a key part of KS2 science, so this book will be very popular.

Basher Science: Extreme Physics by Dan Green

Physics can definitely be a daunting subject but here Basher explains some very complex topics in a very accessible and informative way. The information is broken down into small chunks, making it manageable and easy to remember - this is helped greatly by the amusing cartoons which embellish every topic. Learn about the amazing research that is revolutionizing physics, from the pioneering experiments taking place in the hunt for the Higgs Boson to antiparticles and teleportation. Extreme Physics is a compelling guide to developments at the very forefront of science – a must-read for anyone wishing to understand, and engage with, modern physics. There's a useful glossary to complement the material and also a poster.

The Troublesome Tudors and Sleazy Stuarts (Wicked Wales) by Catrin Stevens

I was delighted to see that these books have been produced and to be asked to review them. There are many similar books for English history and now children in Welsh schools - and anyone interested in Welsh history - can enjoy history presented in this light-hearted way. Did you know that in the days of the troublesome Tudors and the sleazy Stuarts: - people were boiled alive in oil? - several husbands tried to sell their wives at livestock fairs? - one bishop was so fond of hanging people that he hanged one man who was already dead? This is an excellent way for children to learn more about the background to what can sometimes see a dry factual subject and to develop their enthusiasm.

The Appalling Victorians (Wicked Wales) by Catrin Stevens

Another entertaining mix of entertainment and amusement which is an easy and enjoyable read. Learn about desperate disasters, scurrilous sandals and rip-roaring riots. Meet larger-than-life characters: quarrelsome quarry owners, irksome ironmasters, saintly strikers, riotous rebels, and crafty crooks. Find out about their colourful crimes and painful punishments. I was impressed with the amount of information contained in the books in this series - more than in comparable books I have seen for English history. The information is complemented by plenty of humorous drawings, which add enormously to the enjoyment of the series. There are plenty of little known facts and teachers would do well to have copies of these books to enliven their lessons.

Woeful Wales at War (Wicked Wales) by Catrin Stevens

The First and Second World Wars shown in a different way as we learn about the experience of Welsh people and those who were sent to Wales as evacuees. There's something for everybody in Woeful Wales at War, from the grandparents and great-grandparents who experienced the horrors of war first-hand, to the thousands of schoolchildren who enjoy finding out about this very important (and world-changing) part of our history. An excellent way to show children that history can be fun, to bring it alive and to encourage them to continue to learn about the past. I really enjoyed reading them and the whole series is a great asset for the classroom, school library and home - adults will enjoy them too!

Ancient Rome (Puzzle Heroes) by Anna Nilsen

Your challenge? Save Gran from an irate Roman leader by solving the puzzles on 10 pages. Puzzle Heroes is an excellent series which involves the reader by offering puzzles to solve and along the way they pick up lots of knowledge about the topic. This means the book is both an extra learning tool and a fun quiz book. There are all sorts of different puzzles and the pages are packed with interesting detail. Children always enjoy puzzles and this is a new approach.

Volcano Eruption!: Changing Materials and the Science of Survival (Science Adventures) by Richard Spilsbury

By drawing the reader in to an exciting adventure to save Jess, Ben, Amelie and Zac, this book manages to deliver plenty of scientific facts in an interesting and engaging fashion. The volcano is about erupt. But Jess's brother is somewhere on the slopes. Can Jess and her friends find Jess' brother in time to rescue him from the volcano? Science has never been more exciting with this attention-grabbing approach which delivers true scientific learning through an action-packed story and spectacular graphic illustrations. The science is the story is backed up through simple experiments that readers can try for themselves. An excellent and dramatic way to help children understand the facts behind phenomena and to help them see how science can be practically applied.

Maps (Project Geography) by Sally Hewitt

This book combines information for KS2 pupils on all aspects of mapping needed to cover the curriculum. The text is simple and easy to follow and links well with the activities.Plenty of colour illustrations explain and expand on the learning as well as making the book attractive.  I like this series, which works well on many levels. It's an excellent classroom resource, packed with ideas for teachers. The books are also very good for use at home, both with children who already have an interest in the topic and also to enthuse children who need encouragement. The books combine information and step-by-step project activities.

Weather (Project Geography) by Sally Hewitt

An introduction to weather for KS2, this clearly explains each topic along with lots of illustrations and activities. Teachers will welcome the project activities as an excellent way to extend and reinforce learning as well as to encourage creativity, and they will also produce some great display material. The activities link well with the learning - for example, the information on storm is accompanied by an experiment to make a tornado.

Footballers (Celebrity Secrets) by Adam Sutherland

Rio Ferdinand, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney are among the nine footballers featuring in this book. An inside view, with stats, successes, life stories and Q&As, all very attractively presented with good use of colour to define different areas and lots of photos. Celebrity Secrets is perhaps a title you may think would appeal more to girls, but with the topic of footballers, boys are bound to be interested and therefore encouraged to read. Each book in the series features nine celebrities in depth - their background, personal life and career highlights are explored. The books also features six mini-biographies of other celebrities.

World War II (History Crafts) by Rupert Matthews

This is an ideal classroom resource as teachers will welcome the range of ideas which help bring history to life for children. The crafts will also make an excellent contribution to a classroom display. Each book in the series is packed with facts and full-colour illustrations from a selected historical era or subject - I was expecting just a craft book but this is a valuable resource for the historical information it includes and which explain the reason for the craft activities. The craft projects have clear step-by-step instructions illustrated by photos - the crafts include a doll, posters, medals and flags.

Animal Kingdom (The World in Infographics) by Jon Richards

The highly visual presentation of this series on Infographics is ideal to appeal to children who are used to a visual world. It's a whole new way of looking at information. Each topic is presented on a strongly coloured background with lots of facts and statistics, all illustrated in a fresh and engaging manner. Some of the facts are quite amazing and even adults will learn a lot! This new approach will appeal to children who struggle with reading and memorising as they will find the visual element easy to recall.

Technology (The World in Infographics) by Jon Richards

In case you are wondering, infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. It is a way of presenting information that has great appeal to young people today, who respond well to visual stimuli - even the contents page is highly visual. The amazing developments in technology are presented in a clear way which is easy for children to remember and understand. It's an interesting and unusual approach, one that is very relevant to today's world.

The Smart Girl's Guide to Friendship by Fiona Foden

This is an unusual but highly relevant book, primarily aimed at 'tweens', who are going through many changes in their lives. Visually, it's perfect for its market with highly decorative pages. The Smart Girl's Guide to Friendship is the essential guide to making, keeping and being a brilliant friend and it is full of personal experiences and sensible advice to help girls make and keep friends, and to be really good friends. A practical, down-to-earth guide written by an experienced mum and teen magazine editor.

Astonishing Animals Record Breakers by Anita Ganeri

This is packed with the sort of weird and wonderful facts children love! The jazzy layout will encourage children to browse and dip into the book and their attention will be further held by the flaps which conceal yet more interesting information. THere are plenty of unusual facts - did you know there is a mantis that looks like an orchid to fool its unsuspecting prey? Or that the archer fish shoots a jet of water to catch insects? A super way to interest children in the natural world.

Sea Monsters (Prehistoric Safari) by Liz Miles

The amazing artwork in this series enables the reader to travel into prehistoric worlds and really feel that they are actually there. The book has the reader setting off in a submersible, tasked with exploring and photographing the ocean depths as they would have been aeons ago. It's an incredible world, vividly brought to life with lots of interesting facts and information. A very interesting approach.

Killer Dinosaurs (Prehistoric Safari) by Liz Miles

Dinosaurs are always popular and children will revel in the opportunity to get to know them better as they film dinosaurs on a mysterious island. It's a super way to involve children with the book as they feel part of the adventures. Graphic artwork brings these fearsome creatures to life and the reader needs to keep their wits about them to keep safe!

Our New Baby Inside by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

I am always thrilled to see a new book by this inspired pairing - I haven't yet seen one which I haven't thoroughly enjoyed for its innovative and enjoyable approach. This interactive book with lots of flaps (9 to be precise!) shows how a baby grows inside its mother's tummy during pregnancy - the flaps open to reveal the development of the baby. The engaging telling of the 'story' involves the young reader at every stage in a reassuring way that gives just enough information. This is the perfect book to share with a child when a new sibling is on the way, or to answer the 'Where did I come from?' question.

The Little Lowry by Catherine de Duve

This is one in a series of slim but informative books designed to give children an introduction to our best-known artists. Lowry drew industrial life as he saw it and from his paintings we can learn a great deal about the social history of his period. This interactive book draws children in with a series of engaging activities; questions on each painting encourage children to really think about the painting and there are opportunities for them to create their own works of art. He liked to tell stories of life as a tale. The author is an art historian and painter and she has chosen an excellent approach to interest young readers. ISBN 978-2875750013; published June 2013.

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A Day That Changed History: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by Tracey Kelly

It is often said, isn't it, that people alive in 1963 can remember where they were on the day John F Kennedy was shot? I certainly can! This is the story of John F Kennedy's life and death and its effect on both the USA and the wider world. It is told through dramatic photos, text presented in the form of a timeline and contemporary quotations. The book examines Kennedy's legacy and the conspiracy theories behind his death.

Trucks (Motormania) by Penny Worms

This colourful book features some quite amazing vehicles - children will be keen to go out and see how many they can spot once they have read the book! Design and engineering skills are very important to the motor industry in helping to create vehicles that are both fit for purpose and exciting to look at and to drive. The books in the Motormania series offer an overview of some of the most thrilling vehicles on modern roads and racing tracks. The books are packed with facts, incredible statistics and amazing full-colour photography.

Pirates (Greatest Warriors) by Alex Stewart

Pirates - an extremely popular topic and one for which we get frequent requests. This is the reality behind the fiction - tough, scary fearsome fighters. This extensively illustrated book is packed with information and statistics on training, weapons and fighting styles - all you need to know. Dramatic re-creation photographs are a key feature of the book and really bring this exciting world alive.

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Why Do Zebras Have Stripes? Questions and Answers About Animals (Science FAQs) by Thomas Canavan

Do animals have belly-buttons? Can birds sleep in mid-air? Which animal has the longest teeth? These are just some of the many questions answered in this fascinating book. The book is designed to support the National Curriculum for science at KS2, and it's a great way to get children interested as it answers the questions they all ask in an informative and engaging fashion. In case you are wondering, the answer to the question in the title is - scientists can't agree why!!!

If You Were A Horse by Clare Hibbert

Horses are sensitive and intelligent creatures and humans have respected, worked with and loved these animals for thousands of years. By understanding how a horse makes sense of the world we can strengthen our relationships with and understanding of these beautiful animals. This book takes the innovative approach of showing us the world from from a horse's perspective; it explains the horse's body language and interprest it for us, for example, what the position of their ears says about how a horse is feeling or what the different sounds a horse can make mean. A interesting approach which gives a real insight.

My Big Animal Book from TickTock

A super colourful book to bring the animal kingdom to life for young readers. It gives information about the animals, their habitats, diet and the way they life, all in easily assimilated bite-sized chunks. Creatures are grouped in categories such as On the Farm, Animals at Home, Jungle and Rainforest and Under the Sea; there are alos full pages for some creatures, including elephants and cows. The bold use of colour makes this an appealing book and the sturdy pages allow for hours of fun.

What Makes You You? by Gill Arbuthnott

This is a fascinating book with a huge depth to the information - I certainly learnt a lot! It takes the complex subject of DNA and genes and makes it easy to understand. Gill Arbuthnott presents complex scientific concepts and processes in a easily understood way and makes excellent use of diagrams, photos and cartoon figures. We learn about the people who have studied genetics and their contribution, and about the amazing things that can be achieved. The presentation is vivid and eye-catching and this is a wonderful way to learn. Some controversial issues are discussed and the reader is encouraged to have their own view; there are lots of further research sources listed to help with this. An excellent book.

Vikings (History Showtime) by Liza Phipps

This is a novel approach which will be welcomed by teachers as it gives the opportunity to incorporate performing arts into the history curriculum. The book looks at who the Vikings were and describes their everyday life, such as what they ate, what they wore and their beliefs. The book is well illustrated with reconstructions. Alongside this key information are four songs, unique to this series, which bring the facts to life. At the end of the book is a simple playscript, called Viking Adventure, for children to act out. And if that's not enough, there are also plenty of Viking related crafts, making this a truly cross-curricular book. Excellent.

Superheroes (It's Amazing) by Annabel Savery

What is a superhero? We learn that superheroes are people from stories who have special powers. Did you know that there are more than 700 superheroes? Accessible text and colourful design make this an appealing book for young readers and the topic is a great one for encouraging their creative writing. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are just a few of the colourful characters described in this book. Teaching notes and literacy guidelines will help the busy teacher with lesson planning.

I Found a Dead Bird: A Guide the the Cycle of Life and Death by Jan Thornhill

"I found a dead bird. It made me sad...but I also had a lot of questions, like: Why did it have to die? How did it die? What would happen to it now that it was dead?" An attention-catching title which gives rise to an unusual and fascinating, if somewhat disturbing, book. Realistic yet sensitive, this is a book for adults to share with children, rather than one for children to read on their own. It's a difficult topic, but one that needs to be addressed. It's well designed and attractively laid out with lots of information succinctly presented. The questions posed are well answered and I think will lead on to lots more questions and investigation as well as being a great aid to children in understanding a hugely difficult concept.

Fire Engine (Working Wheels) by Annabel Savery

Children will all have seen or heard a fire engine racing off on its business, and many will have been lucky enough to see one close up at school or on a visit to a fire station. They will thoroughly enjoy finding out more through the pages of this well illustrated book which shows the fire engine in detail, plus its equipment, and many other related vehicles too - even aerial firefighters. A page of suggested activities will be well received by teachers as it gives cross-curricular ideas.

Sharks (Scholastic Discover More) by Penelope Arlon

An interesting look at a topic which fascinates many children, with a heavy ratio of picture to text, which makes it appealing for children. The book abounds with fascinating facts - sharks’ amazing memories, shark no-go zones, and cleaners and clingers-on, the fish that travel with and attend sharks. The book highlights the fact that sharks need our protection. The approach is ideal to enthuse children, both for these awesome creatures and for reading and learning. More information can be found by using the digital companion book at www.scholastic.com/discovermore.

Tudors (EDGE: Mad, Bad and Just Plain Dangerous) by John Townsend

A great way to engage children with history as they read about all the weird and wonderful things that fascinate children. 'Which cure involved swallowing a tree frog?'; 'Where was there a 28 seater privy?'; 'Who was killed by a haystack?'. Liberally sprinkled with jokes and cartoons this is history as you've never known it. But despite the lighthearted approach, there are plenty of useful facts here and it makes history fun.

Romans (EDGE: Mad, Bad and Just Plain Dangerous) by John Townsend

If your child finds history boring, give him/her one of these books to read and I can almost guarantee a change of heart! Some of the facts may seem almost unbelievable, but it's all true! Facts and quizzes, a good glossary and comprehensive index - plus jokes and cartoons. Plenty to enjoy and learn at the same time. Victorians and World War II are other titles in the series, and they all cover KS2 history topics.

I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King and the Fight for Equal Rights by Anita Ganeri

This book tells the life story of Martin Luther King from his upbringing in Atlanta, Georgia - a city which had strict segregation laws. It tells of his non-violent efforts to overcome huge racism and prejudice, and how the events of his life, including his involvement with Rosa Parks, informed his views. The book has copious contemporary photographs and the writing style is engaging and readable. The book concludes with his assassination and a discussion of the important legacy he left.

Why Spacemen Can't Burp... by Mitchell Symons

An intriguing question which invites the browser to pick the book up to find the answer. This is another fascinating collection of trivia with some extraordinary questions. Why do dogs put their tails between their legs? Why do we laugh? What is the best British beach for building sandcastles? It's not just the answers themselves but the really entertaining and amusing way they are written which gives these books their great appeal. Perfect for dipping into.

Andy Murray: Tennis Ace by John Murray

From the first time he picked up a tennis racquet to his epic win at the US Open, this is the story of a dedicated, determined and focussed sportsman. Did you know that Andy was approached by a major football club? Or that he used to play doubles with Novak Djokovic? It's an interesting insight into the life of this champion - the ups and downs, heartbreak and success and the opponents he met (and still meets). With eight pages of colour photos, this is a very readable book. In case you wondered (as I did) John is no relation of Andy's.

Flying Monsters (Prehistoric Safari) by Liz Miles

Imagine you are setting off on a journey to a hidden island, home to ancient winged creatures. Are your reactions quick enough to allow you to stay safe? The book takes the reader on an exciting journey, illustrated by amazing artwork. The book shows how these creatures hunted, fought and survived and is backed up by the latest research. An engaging way to involve children in the past.

Giant Dinosaurs (Prehistoric Safari) by Liz Miles

Imagine watching a pack of Velociraptors attack or smelling the fetid breath of a T-Rex - this unusual book helps the reader to do just that, as it takes us back in time through stunning artwork. The layout draws the reader through, with differentiated backgrounds which highlight different aspects of the book. There are fact boxes for each creature and a column of interesting and well researched facts. So many children are fascinated by dinosaurs and this is a new approach to the subject.

Fast and Furious: On Land. in the Air. On the Water by Margaret Parrish

A book full of vehicle superlatives - the fastest, the most powerful, the most expensive... Bright and appealing, these amazing vehicles really are awesome and even more so when you know the facts behind them. Divided into three sections - land, water and air - there are photos, stats and facts and 'Did you know' boxes. It's an enticing book which will appeal to a wide audience and will encourage even reluctant readers with its vibrant layout.

RSPB Spot The Bug from DK

This is a fun way to encourage children to get bug-hunting - there are bugs all around, so wherever you live, you will easily spot at least some. Children will enjoy using the stickers (over 100) to show which bugs they have spotted. Each bug is shown in a labelled photo, with accompanying information and 'spots' to show habitat, size and diet. The publication of the book is supported by Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and these little creatures are important for the survival of larger creatures such as birds. 

The Greeks (Project History) by Sally Hewitt

Following the success of the other titles in this series, Franklin Watts have produced two more curriculum linked books in this series. Both Greeks and Romans are studied as part of the KS2 curriculum and the range of activities here will give teachers plenty of inspiration for use in the classroom, as well as producing some excellent craft work for display. There is information on a whole range of key topics, each supported by an easy-to-follow activity.

The Romans (Project History) by Sally Hewitt

This is an excellent way to discover more about the Romans. By creating crafts reflecting their era, children will gain an insight into the Roman way of life and customs and this will encourage their interest in the period. Full of pictures and with bright colourful layout, this is an attractive book. Excellent both as a classroom resource to stimulate ideas to extend learning, and for home use to encourage children's creativity and their interest in historical periods
   

Seashore (Miles Kelly Handbook) by Camilla de la Bedoyere

This is such a good series from Miles Kelly -  a brilliant way to get children interested in the world around us, and excellent value too. They are a combination of reference book and spotter's notebook, with space for observations, drawings and photos, which mean the book can be kept as a lasting record. This book is ideal for a seaside holiday and there is plenty here for all age groups. It starts with practical advice on seashore safety, explains the habitats and gives tips on using the book. Full colour illustrations of each species are labelled with key points. Alongside are descriptions and habitats. Each species is also shown in a photograph in its habitat So much packed into one practical book.

Deadly Days in History (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary

The most horrible Horrible History yet - a book which is almost guaranteed success! This is a large format glossy hardback, so quite different from the original series. It is full of colour cartoons and illustrations and presents the events of history in a way that will engage even those who profess no interest in history. The reader is taken on a whirlwind tour through the most dreadful, disastrous and deadly days of all, from the grim Great Fire of Rome to the vile St Valentine's Day Massacre. The combination of Terry Deary's enticing presentation and a beautifully produced book makes this an essential companion to history.

The Beastly Best Bits (Horrible Histories) by Terry Deary

Another super book to enthise children for history. The Horrible Histories range has now been around for an unbelievable 20 years, and this is a compilation of Terry Deary and illustrator Martin Brown's favourite bits. The series has had a huge impact on children's perception of history - and reading in general - and has spawned many imitators, but none can match the appeal of the originals. The writing style is direct and captures the attention and the gruesome illustrations are best seen in this large format colour style - it really does them justice. From Vlad the Impaler to the Britzed Brits, this is a wonderful collection of all that's horrid about history.

If Dinosaurs Were Alive Today by Dougal Dixon

Dinosaurs were amazing creatures and this is an amazing journey which shows what might happen if dinosaurs were alive today.  Incredibly realistic images of dinosaurs are set into modern day landscapes with modern-day creatures to find out if they (or today's animals) would survive. It's an unusual and exciting way of finding out about these creatures, packed with information about a whole range of dinosaurs, and full of stunning photo montages. There is a very interesting factual section at the end as well, which poses and answers many questions about dinosaurs and what happened to them.

Reptiles & Amphibians (Little Press) by Belinda Gallagher

The Little Press First Q&A series from Miles Kelly is an attractive set of small format books that are perfect for answering children's questions. The format is a double page spread, each answering a question - for example, this title includes 'Are there tortoises in the desert?' and 'Why do snakes stick out their tongues?'. This is ideal for children, who never stop asking questions! Each page includes additional questions, together with photos and cartoon style illustrations.

Bugs (Little Press) by Belinda Gallagher

Minibeasts are a popular topic for children and this book is perfect to support work done at school. Children will be fascinated by the questions, which echo what children ask, and the answers are clearly and simply explained in text and picture. Each page also includes an activity or question which encourages children to undertake further research of their own, for instance 'Can you name any other insects or animals that have spots?' and 'See if you can find a spider's web. Look in the corners of windows, garages and garden sheds.' 
 

Endangered Animals (Little Press) by Belinda Gallagher

We all need to know about the species which are in danger. We learn why each species is endangered as well as many other fascinating facts which are linked to their decline in numbers. The index in each of these books is comprehensive and an excellent way for children to develop their own dictionary and research skills.  These books contain just enough information to answer the questions and to stimulate further interest - and they're excellent value too!
 

Coral Reef (Little Press) by Belinda Gallagher

An eye-catching cover introduces us to the wonderful world of the coral reef and the creatures to whom the reef is home. There's the clownfish, a blue starfish, a crab who moves house and many more. The range covered by this series is excellent and includes many of the creatures which interest children - there are several more titles below which illustrate the range.

British Wildflowers and Trees Handbook (British Handbooks) by Camilla de la Bedoyere

Giving a child (or an adult) an attractive book with spaces for their own observations is a great way to encourage exploration and enjoyment of nature. This handbook has one page which includes detailed descriptions and close up photos of plants and trees and an opposing page for the reader to fill in where and when seen and a space for drawings and photos. The trees are categorised by leaf shape and the flowers by colour - the margin colours make searching really easy. A lovely way to keep a permanent record and I think this would make a super summer holiday project to enjoy. An extremely well thought out book which is both practical and attractive, and suits all age groups.

Ocean Creatures(Three Dimensional Pop Up) by Sarah Young

This three-dimensional pocket pop-up book is a fun way for children to explore the wonders of the ocean. It unfolds to a length of 1.5 metres and features twelve different sea creatures, which tells us a great deal about the huge variety of marine life to be found. There is a glossary of key terms which reinforces the usefulness of the book. It would make a super background for a display in the classroom or even in the bedroom.

Special Forces (Usborne Beginners Plus) by Henry Brook

A highly secret world revealed - at least in part! This title includes information on s. It's a fascinating insight which introduces the reader to the the elite special forces working around the world today, including the SAS and the Navy Seal, many of which they may never have heard of before. There were elite troops right back in early times - the English archers called Longbowmen were an elite force. The book has a high proportion of picture to text, thus making it accessible and enjoyable even for reluctant readers.

Story of Planet Earth by Abigail Wheatley

An exciting look at the history of the world, from the Big Bang to the present day. Each chapter explores the key systems that drive the planet and the way they interact and are interdependent. As the book says, the only thing about the earth that has stayed the same is the fact that it is ever-changing - and it is still changing. The attractive presentation and highly readable nature of the book (the text flows almost like a story) make this a great read for anyone interested in the wonders of our planet.

See Inside Trains (Usborne See Inside) by Emily Bone

Even without the mass of information contained under the flaps, this would be a very informative book, which starts with Stephenson's Rocket and finishes with maglevs - and some unusual trains right at the end. You can lift the flaps to explore all kinds of exciting trains, from a luxury steam train fit for a queen to super-fast trains that run on magnets, trains that can climb up mountains, and lots, lots more. The book is produced on strong card, with durable flaps, so the young train enthusiast will have plenty of fun with this book. Some of the flaps conceal blown up pictures to add to the detail. This is a one in a super collection of information books from Usborne, which really engages the reader by providing interesting information, colourful graphics and plenty of flaps with yet more information.

You Can Fill a Swimming Pool With Your Spit: Fact or Fiction Behind Human Bodies (Truth or Busted) by Paul Mason

Not a title which will appeal to most adults, but one that will grab children's attention! Truth or Busted Human Bodies takes popular notions and ideas about our bodies and examines where the idea came from, how or why it has become well known, and finally whether it really is true or false. This title looks at statements like: 'You can't sneeze with your eyes open' or 'You can tell when someone is lying'. Each statement is evaluated and then awarded a Truth or Busted stamp at the end of each entry. And the answer to the question in the title? Well, you'll have to read the book to find out!

Buildings (Record Busters) by Daniel Gilpin

Some amazing buildings feature in this book - the most secure prison, the biggest building, the smallest cinema, the tallest hotel - even a building made of mud! A fascinating array of buildings are described and there are lots of facts scattered around the page, making the layout dynamic and attractive. Test Yourself, a glossary and a list for further information complete an excellent book which has something to interest a wide range of ages.

People (Record Busters) by Daniel Gilpin

The presentation of this interesting book is such that it suits a wide age range - it will engage a young reader or an older reluctant reader. Eye-catching layout makes good use of colour, different text styles and of course plenty of illustrations to capture interest. The facts will intrigue the reader and give plenty of talking points. "These hi-lo titles feature gripping, minimal, fact-based text, dramatic and impactful pictures, to reveal fascinating facts about the strongest person, or those who undertook the longest unicycle jump, highest shallow dive, deepest free dive or spent the longest time in space! Packed to the brim with facts and figures this title is an unputdownable read!"

Love Your Dog (Your Perfect Pet) by Judith Heneghan

This is the ideal book to read as a family when you are considering getting a dog. It has advice on choosing a dog; on making the dog feel safe when you bring him home; how to care for your dog and how to ensure he stays happy. The book features the story of Tipper and how his new family look after him. The quiz at the end is detailed and excellent for making sure a child is ready for a pet! Lots of fact boxes and plenty of photos ensure children will enjoy the book as well as finding it a practical introduction to all aspects of dog care.

Exercise and Play (Healthy and Happy) by Robyn Hardyman

This is such a topical series, which helps children to find out all about how to stay healthy and happy with fun exercise and games, that the books merit a place in every school. This title explores the many kinds of exercise and sport children can do, and includes Healthy Hints boxes - tips on great activities to enjoy. It clearly explains how the different types of exercise each have their own benefits to offer and these ideas make excellent discussion points. The Topic Web at the end with its cross-curricular links is an excellent aid for teachers when planning lessons.

John F Kennedy by Michael Burgan

This title gives an interesting insight into the life and background of John F Kennedy, with its in-depth   coverage of his family background and early life. We learn what shaped the popular President and how he came to be elected to office. His presidential years are covered in detail with plenty of photos and background information about other key international figures. His assassination and its consequences are well-explained and this is a clear and understandable biographical account.

Wow! Dinosaur (DK Wow) from DK

Dinosaurs - a topic of fascination to young and old, and this is a book with a depth of information that will satisfy the most avid youngster. Split into four chapters - the world they lived in, what they looked like, their senses and behaviour and theories on how they became extinct. Within the chapters are two page spreads packed with detailed information, diagrams and pictures which help us to gain knowledge about the world of these magnificent creatures and the part they played in shaping today's world. There is a huge amount of information but the accessible layout makes this easy to read and not at all daunting. An excellent book.

The Little Turner by Catherine du Duve

This series offers a lively interactive way to encourage young people to enjoy art and learn more about famous artists. Turner lived in exciting times, when the world was changing and industry was growing. His paintings reflect his fascination with steam, storms, fires and the sea. Turner travelled widely and this is reflected in his paintings - children have the opportunity to do their own sketches and paintings right in the book to record their travels. The book gives an excellent insight into the world of one of our most exciting painters. Published by Happy Museum ISBN 9782930382517.

The Little Van Gogh by Catherine du Duve

An insight into another much-loved artist. I found the page which shows through little pictures how the artist's work changed over the years, to be particularly fascinating and a great way to encourage children to look at the whole paintings. The reader is drawn into the book with a variety of activities which stimulate the imagination and help an understanding of how great works of art are created. They will gain knowledge of this tortured genuis' life and how it affected his work. Published by Happy Museum ISBN 9782930382326.

Aston Martin (Ultimate Cars) by Rob Scott Colson

What better way to encourage reluctant boys (and grirs) to read than by giving them books on subjects close to their hearts? Aston Martin have been making cars for nearly a century. This book will tell you all about the fastest and most powerful models. Have a look under the bonnet to see what makes the Aston Martin go, and marvel at some of the extras that feature in a well-known fictional character's car. Detailed and clearly labelled pictures give the reader an excellent insight inside these much-loved cars.

Fishing (Master This) by Martin Ford

Fishing is a popular hobby which features in this comprehensive series from Wayland Books. Using step-by-step photographs, the reader learns how to prepare tackle, the different fishing techniques to use in varying locations and to catch specific fish and the best places to go fishing. Useful Top Tips feature on every page and offer useful tips to anglers of all ages. Colourful and attractive, this is a great way to engender enthusiasm for hobbies.

My Tourist Guide to the Centre of the Earth from DK

This is a fascinating guide to our Earth, which takes the young reader right to the heart of our planet. Crammed with scientific facts and astonishing  photography, it is ideal to support school topic work and for those who long to know more about the world around them. The tourist guide format draws the reader into the book and encourages them to really feel they are there - they can even see star ratings and find out what to avoid! Landing on Everest, the reader travels through the Earth's crust into fault lines and lakes of magma right to the Earth's liquid core. Stunning presentation and layout make this a book with appeal for all ages.

The Secrets of Stonehenge by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

A new book from this talented duo is always a real treat! Who can fail to be amazed and mystified by the wonder of Stonehenge? Now children can be drawn into its wonders through this fascinating book that really helps us get inside the characters of Ancient Britain and the building of Stonehenge. Told as a story with lots of speech bubbles, with detailed factual information alongside, the plentiful annotated illustrations give an insight into the toil that went into moving and erecting the huge stones. . Intricately detailed, the pictures give a wealth of information and are fun to look at as well The latest research has been used - I learnt a lot from this fascinating book.

Supergeek: Dinosaurs, Brains and Supertrains by Glenn Murphy

An intriguing mix of subjects is headlined in the title! Now children can find out just how much they know about all sorts of aspects of science. "Supergeek is both a book and a game." Packed with questions, in lots of different formats which mean it can be used in a wide variety of situations. It's a fascinating array, with questions and answers to interest all age groups. There are instructions at the back of the book that allow you to 'play' the book too, on your own or in a group. This would be great used in the classroom as a fun way to review knowledge.

Tony Robinson's Weird World of Wonders - World War II

This is another fascinating look at history - the sort of book you pick uo in an idle moment and find yourself still reading half an hour later! It's World War II, but not as we have ever learnt about it before.  Find out everything you need to know in this brilliant, action-packed, fact-filled book, including: - just how useful mashed potato is - how the Battle of Britain was won - what it takes to be a spy - how D-Day was kept a surprise. But don't be fooled by the humorous approach - there is a lot to be learnt from this book, which is packed with contemporary photos, cartoons and illustrations. Tony Robinson must have had a phenomenal effect on children's view of history - after reading any one of his books, what child could truthfully say that history is boring?

Light (Project Science) by Sally Hewitt

Hands-on science - we all know that is the best way to learn and to engage young people with what can be a daunting subject. This series takes key concepts from the KS2 curriculum, explains the science behind them and then illustrates that through simple experiments that can be carried out at school or in the home. The two page glossary is a valuable learning tool and will be helpful when revision time comes around.

Sound (Project Science) by Sally Hewitt

Homework help, activities and crafts are the theme of this series. Each concept is clearly exlpained and then illustrated by use of an experiment. Practical applications are explained, for example why a dog can hear a dog whistle yet humans cannot, and this further reinforces understanding. The books are illustrated with plenty of photos and diagrams to help understanding.

Undercover Operations (Radar) by Adam Sutherland

Radar is an action-packed series that is presented in a bold appealing way that captures the attention of readers of 9+ - even reluctant readers will be drawn into the books by the intriguing subjects and approachable presentation. The world today can be a dangerous place and safety and security rely on the skill of undercover agents who carry out top-secret operations. Fact and fiction combine - the real life of an MI6 spy plus the most famous fictional spy of all time - James Bond, of course.

Police Forensics (Radar) by Adam Sutherland

In the world in which we live, many of us are unfortunate enough to be affected by crime - and if not, then we certainly see it on TV. So this book, with its insight into police forensics and crime scene investigations will generate plenty of interest! Are the things we see on TV crime programmes accurate? You can find out as you learn about the tools of a forensic officer's trade and follow a typical day in the life of a DNA forensic officer! Once again, Wayland have produced a bright vibrabt book that will capture readers.

A Victorian Childhood by Ruth Thomson

This is an excellent classroom or library resource to support the work done on the Victorians in KS2. It studies the topic in much greater depth than many texts aimed at this age group, so it will also be appreciated by teachers preparing lessons on the Victorians. The key areas covered are at home, at work, at school and at play. Contemporary illustrations, photographs and artefacts help the reader to build up a complete picture of what it was to be a child in Victorian times. The layout is very pleasing, with good sized font, colourful fact boxes and the wide range of illustrative material. The timeline is colourful and would make an excellent basis for a display.

A Medieval Monastery (Spectacular Visual Guides) by Fiona Macdonald

This fascinating insight into medieval monasteries vividly depicts monastic life, its origins, the role and work of monks and their place in the wider world. Relying heavily on illustrations and drawings, the presentation has strong appeal and encourages the reader to take an interest. The drawings are very detailed and give a clear picture of monastic life in all its forms. Although this is a children's book, there is enough detail to appeal to adults too, and they will find it very informative. An excellent book to read before visiting one of the many ruined monasteries or abbeys around the country.

Gut-wrenching Gravity and Other Fatal Forces (Disgusting and Dreadful Science) by Anna Claybourne

This is a series perfectly geared to appeal to its target audience and even reluctant readers will be encouraged to pick up the book, both for its intriguing subject matter and its colourful layout. The writing style is friendly and appealing and manages to convey a lot of scientific information in a fun and clearly understandable way. The series looks at the weird, revolting and shocking aspects of science for children at KS2. From electricity to sound and from light to forces, the books offer Wow! fascinating facts, fun examples and true-life stories to provide ways in to understanding solid scientific principles. 

The Beckhams: Worldwide Celebrity Brand (Inspirational Lives) by Liz Gogerly

A celebrity couple who are of interest to many young people, making this a book which is bound to be popular in the school library - and which will, hopefully, encourage reluctant readers. David is a hugely talented football player and was a prominent faces of the London 2012 Olympics. Victoria, one of the Spice Girls, has written books, had a solo music career and created her own fashion label. Together, they are devoted to their family and have given huge support to charities around the world. There are lots of interesting facts - for instance, did you know David suffers form OCD and is excessively tidy? Children will enjoy this insight into celebrity lives.

Elizabeth I (Discover the Tudors) by Moira Butterfield

Discover the Tudors is a comprehensive series of books on the period and taken together, they give an excellent overview of a period which is studied in KS2. Children will learn about Elizabeth I and also about the country over which she reigned, through photos, paintings and illustrations alongside an interesting and approachable text. These are complemented by the index, glossary, timeline and list of websites - these encourage children to do their own research.

National Parks and Conservation Areas (Geography Detective Investigates) by Jen Green

I found this a really interesting book - national parks and conservation areas are all around us and often we are not aware of where they are. National Parks in the UK are described and there is plenty of information world-wide too. Children will learn how important these areas are and that will help them to understand and care for our countryside. This book helps you answer any questions you may have about national parks and conservation areas - why do we need them; who lives in them; and how to protect wildlife. Learn about your nearest national park, make a map showing the mini-habitats found in your area and do a survey on why people like to visit national parks - great activities to support classroom learning.

Toys (Make and Use) by Rita Storey

This is the perfect resource to use to support DT lessons or perhaps school clubs. It is packed with interesting toys to make, including a yo-yo, a racing car, a carousel and a beanbag frog. More than just a how to do book, children will learn about the science and history behind some of their favourite toys. Clear numbered instructions are laid out in coloured boxes and each step is illustrated.The materials are listed and are all relatively easy to source. I like the penguin family best!

Dinosaur Cove: A Cretaceous Survival Guide by Rex Stone

The essential guide for all fans of the Dinosaur Cove - and a super book for anyone interested in dinosaurs (and when they have read this, they will probably want to read the Dinosaur Cove books!). Before you set out on your Cretaceous adventure, make sure you have your essential survival guide handy. In here you can find out what a T-Rex eats for lunch (it could be you!), and what you'll need to put in your backpack for your dinosaur adventure. As well as useful and fascinating facts, there are games and puzzles, plus lots of fun activities to try, like creating your own volcano and making some delicious edible dino poo!

P is for Poland (World Alphabet) by Agnieszka Mrowczynska

This is a wonderful series - a simple concept but invariably perfectly executed. Prodeepta Das' excellent photos really get inside the spirit of the country and I love the way the pictures are framed to show them off. A letter for each day results in an eclectic selection of images which really evoke all aspects of the country. We see Polish children in many different settings, with the trappings of everyday life around them. The text is poetic and informative. ideal for school libraries and classrooms, as well as for families who want to know more about countries (or even their homeland).

The Wild Weather Book: Loads of things to do outdoors in rain, wind and snow by Fiona Danks

Now there is no excuse to stay indoors just because the weather is bad! Rain, wind, snow - they all offer wonderful opportunities - and budget conscious parents will be pleased to know many of them are free. Here are just a few ideas - make fire in the rain; rain music, make a water run, create snowball lights, make toffee ice sculptures.... All the activities are clearly explained and well illustrated. Your children will be longing for bad weather! This is an excellent book which really brings the fun back to childhood and many parents (and grandparents) will reminisce that "I used to do that". Every family home should have a copy.

What If... Humans Were Like Animals? by Marianne Taylor

If you love trivia, then Buster Books have lots to offer you. This is another fascinating book, perfect for dipping into, full of fun, almost unbelievable and often downright disgusting facts about the animal world. The animal world is quite amazing and now children (of all ages!)can find out about the hilarious consequences that would result if humans behaved like animals. Imagine what would happen if you had pop-up claws; ate a plate of jellyfish or girls did all the work! Full of amusing cartoons, this is a book packed with incredible but true facts. Fascinating.

Pond (Nature Trail) by Jen Green

Most of us can find a pond nearby, whether in a city park or out in the countryside. Children can learn about the plants, animals and insects that live in or around a pond. The close up photography is excellent and clearly shows the habitats. The pages are clearly laid out, with plenty of different ways to show information, with fact boxes, diagrams and clear text. Full of information, with questions to stimulate thinking and discussion. It is, of course, an excellent companion to that popular pursuit, pond-dipping

Electrical Gadgets (How Things Work) by Ade Deane-Pratt

Children are enthusiastic users of modern technology, but how much do they know about how the things actually work? Capitalise on their interest in these devices and encourage them to find out more with this colourful and interesting book. Combining Science and Design and Technology, this title examines the technology of the electrical gadgets we use every day. A scientific explanation with the help of annotated diagrams and illustrations is followed by examples of gadgets that make use of the technology. The book includes touch screens, remote controls, DVD players and photocopiers. The explanations are clear and straightforward and very interesting reading.

Kelly Holmes (Inspirational Lives) by Simon Hart

Kelly Holmes has been an inspiration to young people, particularly since winning her two Olympic gold medals, so this is a super opportunity for youngsters to find out more about Kelly. The book starts with her childhood and early years, her time in the Army, and her life-changing decision to pursue her athletics career at the Olympics. Full of information about what inspired her to get to the top, her achievements and honours, this book is a fascinating profile of one of the most inspirational people in sport today. It shows the obstacles she overcame and this will be an encouragement to all young people. Packed with colour photos of Kelly's life, this will prove a very popular book.

Charlie's War Illustrated - Remembering World War One by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

The authors have an amazing gift for bringing history to life and this is another excellent book. Based on the life of Charlie, Mick Manning's grandfather, we learn about his War, through highly descriptive text, stunning artwork, period scraps and artefacts. It is a moving story of the 'war to end all wars', which shows the hardships endured and the camaraderie of the trenches. It does not gloss over the reality of the First World War but shows just how horrifying it was - but not in a sensationalist way at all, just factual and highly readable. A truly exceptional book which has appeal for all ages.

Latin Dance (Radar) by Isabel Thomas

A colourful book about a colourful topic! Latin dance is known for its flamboyant and stylish moves, so improve your footwork with sizzling salsa, tango and rumba step-by-steps. Star stories, interviews, real life accounts and a blog featuring a top UK junior dancer will keep you hooked! Find out about the background to Latin dance and culture, exploring the ultimate show dance, the Brazilian carnival. Packed with information, this is an interesting book which is very readable and full of super pictures.

Board Sports (Radar) by Isabel Thomas

If children are not too keen on reading, then offering them a book on a favourite sport or hobby is a great way to encourage them to read. The tricks, stunts, thrills and spills of boarding are all here. Make sure it's on your radar! Look inside to find a star story about skate legend Tony hawk, discover some awesome boarding tips during our 5-minute interview with a skate pro, and experience the exhilarating rush of mountain boarding! The Radar series is excellent for school libraries - they are bright and attractive and on topics that interest young people - entice them into the library with a display of these titles!

Why Did the Whole World Go to War? (Good Question!) by Martin W. Sandler

I like this series, which takes the questions children ask about major events and answers them in an approachable and child-friendly fashion. The format allows for full page photos and maps to be used to complement the text and good use is made of differing types of layout. The book helps children understand World War II and answers key questions such as : What started World War II? How did Hitler take over so many countries so quickly? What happened at Pearl Harbor? Where were the fiercest battles fought? and What ended the deadliest conflict in human history? It's important that children understand these issues and this is an excellent way to introduce the topics. Published by Sterling ISBN 9781402790447

What Was Your Dream, Dr. King? (Good Question!)by Mary Kay Carson

It's a hard concept for children to understand, but this book gives them a readily understood insight into the segregation that was part of American life for so many years. Martin Luther King is a key figure in US history and here we learn about his life, his fight for freedom, his death and the legacy he left. Again, an appealing format and plenty of illustrations help the young reader assimilate and enjoy the information. A useful timeline puts it all into context. Published by Sterling ISBN 978-1402790454 Just a minor point - these books are American, so they use US spelling.

Beatrice's Dream: Life in an African Slum by Karen Lynn Williams

This book is a real eye-opener for most of us and I hope it will enhance young people's appreciation for the much easier way of life most of us have. Beatrice is a thirteen-year-old orphan in Kibera, Nairobi. Kibera is shanty town built on refuse and rubbish and Beatrice's daily life is vividly portrayed in text and particularly through the excellent photos. It is a book of hope and determination hope as Beatrice follows her dream of being a nurse. It is thought-provoking and full of insight - we all need this awareness of the struggles that others face. A powerful and effective book.

Really Smart Art (Look!) by Gillian Wolfe

This is the first book I have seen in this series and I am very impressed - this is the fifth book and if all the others are up to this standard, then it really is a valuable series. Artists use a whole range of techniques to produce stunning visual effects and here we are introduced to those techniques, which are illustrated by paintings and other artworks.  These include tromp l'oeil, simulating movement, eyes following the viewer, surrealism, creating texture, theatrical use of light, multiple viewpoints, colour effects such as pointilism, visual suggestion and many more tricks. A fascinating insight into the world of artists, and inspiration for all of us, especially with the activity suggestions.

World War I (Machines that Won the War) by Charlie Samuels

This series looks at the technology of war - war has always been a great influence on technological developments. Here we learn about the weapons, armour and fighting hardware that made the difference in World War I. Double page spreads each focus on one of 20 vehicles, ships or weapons used and the specific actions in which they played a decisive part. The book gives an interesting combination of concise reliable technical specifications with eyewitness accounts and quotes from the people who used the machines. An interesting approach to engage young people who may not find history particularly enjoyable. Contemporary illustrations place the technology into context.

Queen Victoria (Young Reading Level 3) by Susanna Davidson

This is the perfect introduction to Queen Victoria - there is a good amount of information with plenty to interest children as they gain an insight into this great queen. The information is interestingly presented with varied illustrations which help the Queen to become a more real person to young readers. I think young people will find the account of her childhood especially interesting and throughout the book, the writing is lively and engaging, as well as being carefully written to be easy to read.

Orang-utan (Eye on the Wild) by Suzi Eszterhas

This a an excellently produced series with stunning photography that takes us right into the world of wild animals.  High in the trees of the Sumatran rainforest, a baby orang-utan is born. We follow her from birth to adulthood, as she learns to look after herself. See her eating her first solid food - mashed fruit , learning to climb, and relaxing in the "nest". She will stay with her mum, learning how to survive in the forest, until she is five years old. Children will be entranced as they watch this beautiful animal grow up.

Sea Otter (Eye on the Wild) by Suzi Eszterhas

Far away in the Pacific Ocean, a baby sea otter is born, just a little bigger than a kitten. See her learn how to find food and look after herself. At first she floats in the water while Mum dives for food, and later she learns how to dive herself, for delicious clams and crabs, and how to sleep on a bed of sea grass in the water. By the time she is one year old she is grown-up and ready to have a baby of her own. The last page of the book is full of fascinating facts about sea otters - I was interested to learn that they use tools to detach and open shellfish. A superbly photographed series.

R is for Russia (World Alphabet) by Vladimir Kabakov

This series has long been one of my favourites for its eye-catching and unusual way of introducing children to different countries. This is a colourful alphabet book about a fascinating country - the format means that the range is wide in order to accommodate every letter - so we have astronauts, hats and pancakes rubbing shoulders. The photographs give an excellent feel for the life and culture of Russia and this is a super addition to the series - do look out for the other titles.

Looking After Dogs & Puppies (Pet Guides) by Katherine Starke

A new dog or puppy is a big responsibility, so ensure children know what is involved with their very own straightforward guide. The book is easy to read, not daunting for children and provides useful and practical guidance from how to pick a puppy to how to feed and on to practical issues such as bathing and grooming. It shows just how much work there is in caring for a dog. Illustrated throughout, it is full of advice - a great deal packed into a slim book.

Look Inside a Pirate Ship by Minna Lacey

Welcome aboard bloodthirsty Black Dan's fearsome pirate ship and make sure you watch your step! It's a busy life on board ship - watch the cargo being loaded, find out what pirates eat ( and be glad you don't have to share it!). The pirates capture a merchant ship and then throw a party. The pictures are packed with detail, the text is entertaining - and then there are over 50 flaps to lift to find out even more. A super book and one which deals with a very popular subject.

Beetles and Bugs (Nature Trails) by Maurice Pledger

Maurice Pledger creates some wonderful books which are a brilliant way to introduce children to the delights of nature and to inspire them to get out and explore. This is one in a reissued series and its great to see it.  Touch-and-feel textures are revealed through die-cut gatefolds, so little ones can interact by lifting the flaps and discovering the creepy-crawlies underneath. And that's not all - under each gate-fold is a key to the accompanying picture which encourages children to spot and name a whole range of creatures. The whole book encourages children to think - it asks, for example, children to guess what a selection of bugs are pretending to be. A super book!

Bradley Wiggins: Champion Cyclist (Inspirational Lives) by Clive Gifford

Chilrden are inspired by champions and this series is excellent to encourage them to emulate the success of others. This book looks at the background, life and achievements of Bradley Wiggins. It examines his impact as a champion cyclist, with his triumphs in the Tour de France and the London 2012 Olympics, as well as detailing the everyday facets of his job and how he gained such success. Lots of information, attractive presentation and well illustrated, this will be very popular.

Vikings (Project History) by Sally Hewitt

This is an excellent way to discover more about the Vikings. By creating crafts reflecting their era, children will gain an insight into the Vikings way of life and this will encourage their interest in the period. Full of pictures and with bright colourful layout, this is an attractive book. Excellent both as a classroom resource to stimulate ideas to extend learning, and for home use to encourage children's creativity and their interest in historical periods.

The Egyptians (Project History) by Sally Hewitt 

The cover tells us this book gives 'Homework help, activities and crafts' and it is packed with inspiring ideas. Far more than just a craft book, each project has accompanying information - for example Making a Decorated Collar is enhanced by information about jewellery in Ancient Egypt. There are illustrations to show both the craft and the history, including pictures of source material so children can embellish their projects. Excellent support for topic work, with some fresh new ideas.

The Egyptians (Project History) by Sally Hewitt 

The cover tells us this book gives 'Homework help, activities and crafts' and it is packed with inspiring ideas. Far more than just a craft book, each project has accompanying information - for example Making a Decorated Collar is enhanced by information about jewellery in Ancient Egypt. There are illustrations to show both the craft and the history, including pictures of source material so children can embellish their projects. Excellent support for topic work, with some fresh new ideas.

Animal Rights (Both Sides of the Story) by Patience Coster

However hard we try to be neutral, if we have strong opinions on a topic it can be hard to put forward an unbiased argument - and that's where this series comes in. Both Sides of the Story does exactly what it says, by presenting arguments for and against so the reader has plenty of information to make their own decision. Animal Rights is an emotive issue and here it is discussed in a balanced manner that makes reference to the important advances that have been made through animal testing as well as the importance of animal welfare. The further information section encourages deeper research.

Lewis Hamilton: Formula One Champion (Inspirational Lives) by Clive Gifford

An excellent way to encourage reluctant readers, by focusing on a famous sportsperson who will be of great interest. Lewis Hamilton is a record-breaking racing driver who is the youngest person ever to become Formula One champion. An inspiring account of his life,  the sacrifices he made and his professional rivalries. Inspiring and unputdownable, this book provides an insight into one of the most influential figures in British sport. This revised version takes us right up to the end of 2012.

A Killer Shark (Animal Instincts) by Tom Jackson

A fascinating insight into the great white shark's life cycle. Learn about the different aspects of the biology of sharks: how they sense the world, find their food, reproduce and communicate with each other. Interestingly, part of the text is told through first-person speech bubbles, as the shark lets us in on what he is thinking - an unusual device and one which children will enjoy. Full of excellent colour photography this is a good book for readers of any age who want an insight into the life of these creatures.

Earth and Space ((I Know Stuff) by Anita Ganeri and othersbook

Presented in a simple clear, mainly question and answer, format, this book packs in a great deal of information in a highly accessible format. It has comprehensive coverage of the solar system and space travel; and of our physical world from prehistory onwards. Written by a team well experienced in writing for children, this is a book which will prove an invaluable homework resource as well as a fascinating book for the whole family to dip into. A well designed contents page lists all the questions answered under chapter headings and there is also a comprehensive index and a glossary. Every page is full colour and packed with photos - a very attractive and useful book.
 

 

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