Book reviews - non fiction ages 7-11 (page 5)

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.

 

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Stories of Extraordinary Women by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

We have an excellent book here which should be top of every girl's reading list - and boys too, so they can see the vital role played by women throughout history. This crowdfunded book has become a smash hit, and quite rightly so. Written to inspire girls and to counteract the prevalence of boys in stories, this inspiring collection of stories is testament to the power of women. Illustrated by sixty female artists from every corner of the globe, the book introduces us to one hundred remarkable women and their extraordinary lives, from Ada Lovelace to Malala, Amelia Earhart to Michelle Obama. Empowering, moving and inspirational, these are true fairy tales for heroines who definitely don't need rescuing. It's a fascinating read, perfect for dipping into and ideal to inspire readers to find out more about these amazing women,

Out and About: Night Explorer from Nosy Crow

Ideal for parent and children to get out together and explore the wonders of the night, this kit has all you need to get started - an LED torch (plus batteries), a neat little backpack, a fold-out constellation guide, glow in the dark star stickers and a book which enables identification of over 100 insects, animals, birds and stars. The book is clearly set out with child-friendly illustrations to aid positive identification, plus activities such as making a creepy-crawly home. The explorer's guidebook is packed with fun activities and useful information about how to identify creatures whilst out and about, whether in a garden or adventuring further afield on a night-time nature walk.This complete kit is the perfect introduction to nature once the sun has gone down, for children aged 6+! The pack is published in conjunction with the National Trust - look out for this, and other Nosy Crow books, in their gift shops.

British Museum: Maurice the Museum Mouse's Amazing Ancient Book of Facts and Jokes by Tracey Turner

Instill an interest in ancient history in your child with this fun-packed book. This joke book is full of side-splittingly hilarious jokes and fascinating facts about civilisations found in the British Museum. "Which ancient civilisation was the most untidy? Mess-opotamia". Full of bite-size facts about amazing ancient worlds and jokes that will have you howling, Maurice the Museum Mouse's comical collection is just as entertaining as the British Museum's own collection. It's a great way for children to learn the facts and have fun at the same time - be prepared to have lots of jokes read to you!boring, but is full of interest for everyone. It's also an excellent way to learn that the British Museum is not staid and boring.

In Focus: Cities by Libby Walden

Take a journey around the world and discover 10 famous cities - London, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, Rome, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Istanbul and Sydney. Each city is illustrated by a different illustrator and this is an excellent feature, as each illustrator has managed to capture the essence of the cities in their own way. This super-sized book delves into the cultural, social and historical identities of ten world-famous cities.The giant flaps for every city allow further exploration of the culture, character and civilisation of each city. The information is succinctly presented and 'Did you know... ' boxes give additional detail. 360 Degrees is a new non-fiction imprint from Little Tiger Press.

The Great Big Body Book by Mary Hoffman

This is a good way to support children at KS1 and early KS2 in their learning about the human body. It is the fourth book in an excellent series which is approachable and friendly for young children, giving them a good insight into the topic. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and they change throughout our lives as we change from babies to children to teenagers to adults. Find out about growing and learning, keeping fit, breaks and bruises, the five senses, using our minds, how we are the same and how we are different – and lots more. With copious cartoon-style illustrations by Ros Asquith, the approach is easy and enjoyable and the facts are presented in a memorable way.

Cool Coding: Filled with Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages from Pavilion Books

Coding, which is now part of the National Curriculum, can seem a daunting topic, but books like this really help to demystify it for both children and adults. A fun, accessible guide to computers and coding for older children and curious adults. This fun book is arranged into handy bite-sized chunks, making the information easy to assimilate. Cool Coding contains all the basics about computers and coding, from the very basics of binary code and how it works, on to the myriad things that coding can actually do, and concluding with the brave new worlds of artificial intelligence, robots and cloud computing. Scratch and Python, which are commonly used in schools, are included and the book shows how coding can be used to create websites, games and apps, and make robots and moving vehicles, with the help of nifty devices such as the Raspberry Pi. Attractive illustrations and good use of diagrams and text boxes make the book easy to use - and there is a huge amount of information to be found.

Go Wild in the Woods by Goldie Hawk and Rachael Saunders

This hardback book is the perfect size to slip into a pocket or a rucksack, all ready to go exploring. All the essentials for woodland explorers are here - what to pack, how to build a shelter, how to craft your own tools, how to cook food over a campfire...and even how to get drinking water from wee! Children will also learn exactly what not to do, from eating poisonous mushrooms to starting a forest fire. With fun games to play in the woods, advice on tracking animals, and a useful chapter on first aid, this is an excellent book. A lovely way to help children appreciate all the wonders of nature, packed with informative advice and plenty of guidance on keeping safe. We may not be able to give our children the freedom their predecessors have, but this book really encourages outdoor exploration in a safe and practical way. It is another produced in conjunction with the National Trust.

The Story of the Car by Giles Chapman

This will appeal to adults just as much as to children, with its large format and absorbing range of cars, ordinary and extraordinary. Of course, cars are an essential of everyday life but they are also vehicles of beauty that allow drivers to determine their own destination. From Benz's first motor wagon to the jet-propelled ThrustSSC, find out about the history of the motor car, accompanied by stylised drawings by US NOW. It also gives an insight into social history, as we learn how the upheavals of the past 140 years diverted the car's journey: two world wars, economic crashes, the digital revolution and more. The book concludes by taking a look at the future - the fantastical cars that have been imagined in film and the incredible vehicles that await us.It's a fascinating look at the place of the car in our lives.

DK First Science Encyclopedia

Inquisitive children will love this colourful science encyclopedia, which is perfect for inspiring KS1 and KS2 children to take an interest in science. Whether it is for homework, or just dipping in to answer questions, children will learn all they need to know about science. Filled with fun science facts about many different subjects, the book answers the question 'What is science?@, and is then divided into life science, materials science, physical science, earth and space science, with a final useful reference section. There are many useful devices to help learning, and to make navigating the book easy. These include Turn and Learn boxes to link to other pages, and hands-on experiments. The layout is excellent, with many different ways of presenting information - and there are, of course, masses of exceptional photos and diagrams.

Discovery Atlas by Anita Ganeri

This bright and colourful first atlas, packed with illustrations and photos on every page, will really help children understand our world and learn to locate different countries. It starts with introducing biomes, and is then set out by continent, ending with a quiz. Regions are shown using physical and political maps, and feature iconic animals, natural wonders, famous landmarks, and much more, making the atlas really appealing for children. Each spread includes ‘sight-seeing’ features to whet young explorers’ appetites. The layout is clear and easy to follow, with good use of colour and information boxes; fast facts cover the basics succinctly. A good introductory atlas.

A Canadian Year: Twelve months in the life of Canada's kids (A Kids' Year) by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

Join Liam, Ava, Oki, Chloe and Noah - five children from very different Canadian backgrounds. Join them as they enjoy a year of Canadian, from celebrations, traditions and events, to the everyday way of life. All aspects of Canada are celebrated through engaging colour pictures and informative text that winds its way through the pages. It is a fascinating snapshot of Canadian childhood, full of life and joy and a perfect commemoration of the country, with facts both familiar and unfamiliar to enjoy and learn.

A Kiwi Year: Twelve months in the life of New Zealand's kids (A Kids' Year) by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

Charlie, Ruby, Oliver, Mason and Kaia are here to take children on a very personal journey through a year in New Zealand. From everyday life, like shopping and going to school, to celebrations and festivals, the book encapsulates what makes New Zealand the country it is. Informative text interweaves with colourful pictures to make the book really engaging, and a fascinating read.

Children's Illustrated Thesaurus from DK

A thesaurus could be daunting for children, but this excellently produced book is far from boring - children will find it fascinating just to dip into, as well as for using when they want to extend their vocabulary. With plenty of colour photos as well as infographics for many popular words, the presentation is excellent. Coloured edges plus highlighted letters make it easy for children to find their way around the book. There are synonyms and antonyms for around four thousand entries, each supported by a definition and example sentence to help boost a child's confidence in using and choosing words. Thee child-friendly design will help inspire children to build a rich and vibrant vocabulary, standing them in good stead throughout life.

The Prehistoric Times by Stella Gurney

This book is described as the newspaper for discerning dinosaurs - an approach which will really capture children's attention. It is full of activities, including paleo puzzles, fearsome facts and giganto games. Children can meet real-life reptiles and read fascinating features, such as Doomsday Dino Predicts Disaster and Allosaurus Outtogetus. Packed with similar articles which, although light-hearted in approach, are also very informative, this is a fascinating and unusual way to present information. With all the activities, children will be engrossed for hours.

The Ancient Greeks (Discover) by Isabel and Imogen Greenberg

I was really impressed by the first two books in this series, so am delighted to see two more books in the same format. The approach is engaging and light-hearted, perfect to stimulate KS2 pupils to take an interest in ancient history, which forms part of the curriculum. Packed with facts which are wittily and memorably presented, the book includes a fold-out map and timeline,both of which add greatly to the learning experience. two page spread explores a different theme or topic, such as Hall of Fame, Greek Rule and The Olympic Games. Created by graphic novelist Isabel Greenberg and her sister, Imogen Greenberg, the Discover series offers a fresh and accessible entry point to history for children 8+.

The Aztec Empire (Discover) by Isabel and Imogen Greenberg

Find out lots of fascinating facts about the Aztecs, some well-known but with plenty of more unusual and lesser-known facts to intrigue children and make this ancient civilisation come alive. The information is presented comic-strip style, with factual information in the text accompanied by speech bubbles which add to the text in an amusing way to captivate children. There's plenty of detail to learn from in the illustrations too. Topics include Art and Poetry; Origin Story; Aztec Calendar and Archaeology. There is also a pull-out map and timeline to help children put events into context. An excellent series, a little out of the ordinary.

How To Be a Scientist by Steve Mould

As this book shows, being a scientist isn't just about wearing a lab coat and performing science experiments in test tubes. It's about looking at the world and trying to figure out how it works - and that is something all children can do as they go about their everyday lives, as this book clearly demonstrates. As well as simple science projects for kids to try, How to Be a Scientist will teach them how to think like a scientist - a skill that will stand them in good stead for the future, both in and out of formal education. For every scientific concept the child learns they will be encouraged to find new ways to test it further. So, for example, children are encouraged to make jellies with various fruits, including pineapple; the book then explains and demonstrates why the pineapple jelly does not set. THe book relies heavily on illustrative material, making it accessible and appealing to children. Fun questions, science games, and real-life scenarios make science relevant to children. A great way to inspire children to enjoy science and to see the role it plays in daily life.

Truly Foul & Cheesy Body Joke Book (Truly Foul & Cheesy Joke Book) by John Townsend

Another hilarious, fact-packed joke book that young readers will love to laugh at as they learn. It features dozens of gut-busting gags that children can share with their friends, themed around the gross and gruesome aspects of the human body, along with bite-sized information about the topics covered. It's great fun for children, perfect to encourage reluctant readers - and highly informative too.

All Aboard the London Bus by Patricia Toht

Whether you live in London, are visiting or just want to learn more about the iconic landmarks of our capital city, this book has plenty for you to enjoy. Join a family of four as they spend a day exploring London on a big red bus. Well-known landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the London Eye are all featured and described in evocative and descriptive poems which are very child-friendly. The map showing the River Thames is great to show children the exact location of all the landmarks in the book. The book never forgets this is London - so it includes iconic features like rain and taking tea. Non-fiction facts on every landmark provide more information at the end of the book. Sam Usher's illustrations bring it all to life with style and humour. A lovely book which will make a perfect gift for visitors to London.

Above and Below by Hanako Clulow

This unusual approach is an excellent way to introduce children to a range of habitats, and to generate enthusiasm. Half page flaps lift to show what goes on that above and below the surface. Eight habitats are featured - ocean, rainforest, North Pole, river, mountain caves, savannah, clifftops and forest. It is beautifully illustrated and the various creatures are well labelled and described, making the book both attractive and informative. It's a different approach from many books, and very effective.

Old Masters Rock: How to Look at Art with Children by Maria-Christina Sayn-Wittgenstein Nottebohm

You may feel that children won't be interested in art, and especially not in Old Masters. Once you have read this book, you will definitely change your mind! Written with a true appreciation of the subject, this book shows how to make looking at art with children become fun.It demystifies western art and demonstrates that it is accessible to all of us - adults and children alike. The book introduces the type of questions that help us discover things about a work of art and how we feel about it. Features such as 'Art Detectives' encourage children to solve clues and 'Fun Facts' help them remember the pictures. The book is set out in thirteen themes including Animals, the Natural World, Action Heroes, Myth & Magic, Fabulous Faces and others, 50 paintings from the fourteenth century through to the early twentieth century are featured. It's perfect for teachers who are taking classes on school trips, as it's full of ideas to enthuse children.

History Jokes and Facts (Truly Foul & Cheesy) by John Townsend

History is far from boring in this hilarious, fact-packed joke book will have young readers laughing as they are learning. And that's the real point - there is so much to be learnt through this humorous approach, and the way the information is presented means it is very memorable. It features dozens of gut-busting gags that children can share with their friends, themed around the gross and gruesome aspects of history, along with bite-sized information about the topics covered - and plenty of hilarious illustrations. Prepare to hear lots of grizzly and gruesome facts!

Science Jokes and Facts (Truly Foul & Cheesy Joke Book) by John Townsend

Books like this are brilliant to encourage children to read - just leave a copy lying around and they won't be able to resist dipping in; and once they do, they will be hooked! There are plenty of unpleasant things in science, from the horrible death of astronomer Tycho Brahe to the top ten odd habits of Nikola Tesla; no, I'm not telling - you'll have to get your own copy of the book to find out! The humour is blended with plenty of factual information which children will absorb as they enjoy the book, increasing their interest in and knowledge of science.

Animal Jokes and Facts (Truly Foul & Cheesy Joke Book) by John Townsend

Another fascinating blend of joke and fact, perfect to give children plenty of quotable quotes. Riddles, jokes long and short, and plenty of interesting facts combine with hilarious illustrations to offer children plenty of laughs on every page, whilst increasing their knowledge about wildlife. A series which children are going to love.

Vet Academy: Are you ready for the challenge? by Steve Martin

Many children dream of becoming a vet - but have they got what it takes? I love this book, with its hands-on approach that really shows children what a vet's life is like. This unusual activity book includes sections about the three main different types of vet – Pet Vet, Zoo Vet or Farm Vet. A wide range of topics are covered, from learning about baby animals and everything they need to grow strong and healthy to finding out about vaccinations and diets for different animals. You will also learn about animal body language, exercise, and keeping animals happy and healthy! Key skills are practised with a variety of fun activities, including observation, speed and accuracy tasks, and matching and finding games. The friendly approach and appealing illustrations work well together to bring us a book which is a real pleasure to read, for everyone who loves animals - even if they don't aim to be a vet!

Engineer Academy: Are you ready for the challenge? by Steve Martin

With the current emphasis on STEM subjects, and especially on engaging girls with science, this is a really timely book that shows the huge range of opportunities available in engineering - and gives children the chance to try out some activities to see how they get on. There is so much to enjoy in this book as children learn the essential skills to start their own engineering journey. Packed full of great illustrations, fun facts, and absorbing activities, this book guides readers through each strand of engineering science – Mechanics, Aerospace, Robotics, Energy, and Materials. Practical projects, each carefully designed to introduce skills of the sort required by real-life engineers, help kids pick up the basics in a fun, hands-on way. Design a robot, learn how to construct a simple car, create your own levers and pulleys, and build paper planes, plus many other educational and inspirational activities – the sky's the limit! The enticing presentation and huge variety of different ideas is really impressive - I do hope there are more to come in this ingenious series from Ivy Kids.

Spot the Mistake: Lands of Long Ago by AJ Wood

I love the way this book makes children really think about what they are seeing; it's a really good discipline for them to learn to question what they see. Would a Mayan warrior have worn a watch? Would a Viking have used a compass? There are 20 mistakes in every scene for children to spot, then they turn the page to see whether they were correct, and to learn more fun facts about ancient civilisations, including the Ancient Greeks, the Ancient Egyptians, the Romans, the Mayans, the Vikings and many more. A brilliant concept which will stimulate all sorts of discussion - a great classroom resource and a book which will help children learn and remember. It's attractively illustrated, without too much detail to obscure the true reason for studying the pictures; the explanations of the mistakes are clear and informative. Wonderful!

Pirates: Dead Men's Tales by Anne Rooney

Pirates have been around on the High Seas for hundreds of years, and their history is one that intrigues, alarms and delights children, so this fascinating book is bound to be popular. They will come face-to-face with some of the most notorious villains ever, including Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, the Barbarossa Brothers and Mary Read and Anne Bonny. Atmospheric and dark illustrations bring the real life stories of pirates to life, accompanied by in-depth pirate profiles and highly visual maps which will really help children with their knowledge of geography, showing where the events took place and putting them into context. A fascinating and fact-packed insight.

The Big Book of Beasts (Big Books) by Yuval Zommer

The tall portrait format of this book immediately caught my eye - it really gives scope for the beautiful illustrations to be shown off at their best. It's a friendly, approachable book, which devotes a two-page spread to each creature, with succinct facts and questions chattily answered against the backdrop of those superb illustrations. Each creature is illustrated many times, giving scope for all sorts of different poses and expressions - clever. This book opens with introductory spreads explaining that beasts are wild animals that can’t be tamed and gives tips on how to spot them in their natural habitats. The book is really wide-ranging too, as the final spreads approach the world of beasts thematically, looking at mythical beasts, Ice-Age beasts, beasts on your street and how to save beasts in danger. A superbly presented book with wonderful illustrations, enticingly written so children will pore over it for many enjoyable hours - and remember the facts because of the engaging presentation.

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The Periodic Table Book: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Elements from DK

You could well think this is going to be a dry and boring book, but far from it. It's a fascinating look at the elements that make up our world. This eye-catching encyclopedia takes children on a visual tour of the 118 chemical elements of the periodic table, from argon to zinc. A clear contents page helps navigate the book, by showing the elements under specific groups. It explores the naturally occurring elements, as well as the man-made ones, and explains their properties and atomic structures. Throughout, the photos (as we always expect from DK) are simply superb, and highlight the beauty of the natural world as well as showing what man creates from the elements. The Book shows the many natural forms of each element, as well as a wide range of both everyday and unexpected objects in which it is found, making each element relevant for the child's world. If you want your child to engage with the periodic table, then get this book and you will succeed in your aim. It is quite fascinating.

Birds (Nature Explorers) from DK

Written at just the right level to start children off on an interest in bird watching, Birds is the perfect companion for children eager to understand the world of ornithology. It is not a bird identification book, but a way to discover all about various types of birds, from birds of prey to tropical birds, and how a bird makes its nest, how they feed, how birds hatch and much more. This is complemented by hands-on activities, including how to make a bird feeder and a bird bath, and plenty of fun facts. It's well laid out, easy to read and very enjoyable - ideal to stimulate an interest in birds.

Secrets of Our Earth: A Shine-a-Light Book by Carron Brown

This intriguing and unusual series is growing rapidly, with plenty of new titles to enjoy. In this book, children will embark upon a memorable journey of discovery with a combination of natural landscapes, animal habitats, and geological wonders. The earth is explored in all its diversity, from icy mountains to busy cities and children are involved throughout by questions about the pages. The unique design of the book allows children to discover a “hidden“ image by holding the page up to a bright light. Although the publishers recommend the books for children aged 3 and up, I feel they are better suited to older children, as a three year old will find it hard to hold the books up to the light, as they are hardback and quite big for little hands; they are fine for 3 year olds to share with adult help and this is, of course, the best way to encourage a love to books.

Wonders of the USA: A Shine-a-Light Book by Carron Brown

Children can view the USA as they have never seen it before with this unusual see-through book. Hold the pages up to a bright light, and see what is happening inside the White House... find out what is inside the Statue of Liberty's crown... find animals living in the Grand Canyon... Make the most of the book by asking children what they think will be the answers to the questions before they look at the solution. The book looks at natural and manmade landmarks and really shows the diversity of the country, taking children from Hawaii to the Everglades and from Mount Rushmore to the Golden Gate Bridge. A fascinating book.

Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond by Martin Jenkins

Learn about the history of space exploration told in an engaging narrative style that makes reading easy and enjoyable - it is very well written, pitched at just the right level for 8 - 12 year olds, but informative enough for adults to enjoy too. The story of space exploration covers early astronomy, the history of flight, the Space Race, the day-to-day of astronauts in the International Space Station and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and considers where future missions might take us. It's a refreshing change from the two page single subject spreads we are so familiar with, making the narrative flow rather than being disjointed. Stephen Biesty's magnificent cross-section illustrations lay bare the intricate workings of space probes and shuttles, the Mars Curiosity Rover, spacesuits and Soyuz rockets. Back matter includes a comprehensive timeline and glossary of terms. An excellent book to inspire an interest in space exploration.

Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver

Children are fascinated by rock pools and they are a miniature habitat that children can explore easily, so it's excellent to ssee a book that will encourage this. The book encourages children to look into rock pools by lifting the flaps to discover what is waiting to be found. This book, with its large colourful flaps Features beautiful linocut artwork by award-winning author/illustrator Narelle Oliver. There is also a useful glossary of rock pool creatures. A lovely book.

The Earth Book: A World of Exploration and Wonder by Jonathan Litton

Stunning! A superb insight into the marvels of our world, natural and man-made - a book that will have you going "Wow!". Whether you choose to dip in at random, or read cover to cover, this book is a revelation. Readers can marvel at the physical planet, travel back in time to primordial Earth, explore all branches of the tree of life, discover habitats from oceans to deserts, learn how the weather works and take a tour of the human planet from the Maasai steppe to Manhattan. The generous format of the book gives scope for excellent illustrations; my only caveat is that I think the text is rather small, especially when against deep coloured backgrounds. Otherwise, a wonderful book.

The Gadget Inventor Handbook by Mike Warren

This book is an excellent way to help children understand how the science behind their favourite gadgets actually works. Gizmos, gadgets, circuits, and LEDs all have their part to play and here's the book for children to use to make their own gadgets. From drawing a robot, and practising on a breadboard, to building a racing machine, all the projects here have detailed step-by-step instructions and ample illustrations to guide young scientists as they master core electronics skills. My favourites have to be the LED slippers - perfect for walking around a darkened house. To further extend children's learning experience and imagination, every project can be customised to make it personal and unique. The 14 projects range from easy to advanced - some can be tackled without adult help, others require adult supervision, including a few which use a soldering iron

Design, Animate, and Create with Computer Graphics (How to Code: A Step by Step Guide to Computer Coding) by Max Wainewright

Here's an excellent way to encourage children to use computers, not just to play games, but to really make full use of the computer's power to design, animate, and create digitally, from birthday cards to 3D cities and more. There are five chapters, each building on learning from the previous one, covering bitmap painting, vector graphics, photo-editing, animations, and 3D drawing. It really encourages children to see the power of the computer and to develop their imagination and creativity. Step-by-step instructions include plenty of pictorial examples, ensuring children can tackle the projects confidently on their own - and be proud of the results. An Excellent book.

iExplore - Bugs by Hannah Wilson

Be warned - you will never look at bugs in quite the same way once you have read this book, with its free app that brings giant bugs to life! It's amazing what digital magic can do, bring us up close and personal in ways that only scientists used to enjoy. Get set to see the biggest, scariest and most awesome bugs of the world come to life right in front of your eyes, thanks to the power of Digital Magic. Watch a Goliath bird-eating tarantula crawl across your table, a Giant Wetapunga Cricket jump on your friend's hand, two Hercules Beetles battling against each other, the world's biggest butterfly flutter around your bedroom, and much more. There's plenty of factual information, and excellent colour photos to enhance the value of the book - a book to engross all young nature lovers; it's a fascinating approach.

Ella Queen of Jazz by Helen Hancocks

Ella Fitzgerald sang the blues and she seemed unstoppable until prejudice hit when the biggest club in town refused to let her play because of her colour. But when all hope seemed lost, an unlikely person stepped in to help - none other than Marilyn Monroe. This is the inspiring, true story of how a remarkable friendship began – and how they worked together to overcome prejudice and adversity. It's excellent to see this touching story brought to a young audience, and to see how these iconic characters worked together. Simply but very effectively told.

The School of Music by Meurig and Rachel Bowen

Welcome to the School of Music, a place bursting with talent, creative energy and special encounters. Split into three terms of activities, with 40 sections in all, thi would work wonderfully for non-specialist music lessons in schools as it is full of inspiration for teachers and children. Meet The Boss! He’s called Sergio Trunk. Some people call him The Maestro, and he, along with his team of talented musicians, will lead you through 40 lessons that help you to learn about classical music, the theory behind music, and the fun you can have making it. It's a hugely ambitious project in a single book but the authors succeed admirably - and the book is kept really accessible by the excellence of Daniel Frost's illustrations The authors' love and passion for music really shines through the book and I really hope that young people, musical or not, will have the chance to enjoy this book and discover a love of music for themselves.

Books, Books, Books by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

My favourite pairing ever have brought us another wonderful book - and what better than to celebrate books. Visit the largest library in the world, the British Library and discover its wonders, including handmade gospel hidden in a saint's coffin; a HUGE atlas that takes six people to lift it; a tiny prayer book carried by a queen to her execution; the original handwritten manuscript of Alice in Wonderland; AND books so rare and valuable they are kept in a bomb-proof store-room... and much, much more. The British Library is an amazing place as this fascinating book shows. From man-eating monsters and brave knights to wicked witches, lost children, haunted moors, magical creatures and flying machines. This lavishly illustrated book shows them all to us through narrative text and evocative illustrations - it's nearly as good as visiting the library yourself, and will definitely encourage children to visit the library - and library.

Taking Flight: How the Wright Brothers Conquered the Skies (Dare to Dream 1) by Adam Hancher

We take flight for granted today, but it seemed an impossible dream in the days of the Wright Brothers - and that's why this book is such a good start to a new series called "Dare to Dream". From childhood, the pioneering Wright brothers dared to dream of being the first men in the world to fly… but would they ever see their dreams take flight? The golden age of aviation is brought vividly to life in this story of determination, ingenuity and courage. It's inspiringly written, to encourage children never to give up on dreams; the account is told in narrative form, making it an easy and enjoyable read. Colourful drawings throughout set the scene to perfection. The book also includes a page about the Wright Brothers' life and legacy.

100 Steps for Science: Why it works and how it happened by Lisa Jane Gillespie

Divided into 10 sub-sections - space, wheels, numbers, light, sound, particles, medicine, materials, energy and life - this books takes a fascinating look at the impact of science on our everyday lives. It shows the significance of the early scientific observations made by ancient civilizations and how they went on to shape our world today, and explains how technology evolved over time in ten breakthrough moments for each of the ten key discoveries. It's an interesting way to view the subject and ties in well with the way children are taught science. The unusual illustrations are a striking feature of the book, and they provide many memorable images to help memory and understanding. A fascinating book.

National Trust: Ned the Nature Nut's Nutty Nature Jokes and Facts by Sarah Horne

This is another result of the collaboration between Nosy Crow and the National Trust and I can see many happy children picking up a copy of this in the gift shops! This nutty, nature joke book is full of side-splittingly hilarious jokes and fascinating facts based on nature. It's all perfectly geared to children and they will absorb a surprising amount of knowledge as they enjoy the humour. Full of green-fingered giggles and wildlife witticisms, as well as incredible facts about nature, Ned the Nature Nut will turn you into a nature nut too! A great way to encourage an interest in nature.

The Book of Me by Adam Frost

This is really a book for children to get totally immersed in, as they doodle, draw and complete it with their own data. Here are some questions for children to ponder: "If you ran your school, what would the rules be? Would you rather talk to animals, or speak every language in the world? How fast can you run?" These are just a sample of the questions children will encounter, and which will really stimulate their thinking. A lively, fun book which is bound to intrigue and amaze.

What's Where on Earth? Atlas: The World as You've Never Seen It Before (Children's Atlas) from DK

This book certainly lives up to its claim, as you would expect from DK - it really does take us way beyond the ordinary. With over 60 unique specially commissioned 3-D maps and artworks, this wonderful atlas will take children (and adults will be entranced too) on a continent-by-continent tour of the world. There are themed maps for each continent, on topics such as major geographical features, cities and monuments, population, and wildlife; these will fit perfectly with the KS2 curriculum, really stimulating children's interest in the wider world. With fast travel today, it's easy for children to lose sight of the inter-relationship of countries, and this atlas is the ideal way to address that balance. The artwork is really stunning and it is accompanied by masses of interesting and practical facts. An ideal gift and home reference for children aged between 8 and 11, guaranteed to stimulate an interest in the world around them.

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Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

Martin Brown's illustrative style will be familiar to most children, as he has illustrated the hugely popular Horrible Histories - but what a treat, as we can now enjoy his illustrations in full colour, along with his instantly appealing text. If you are tired of the same old animals, then you will love to discover the brilliant beasts you never knew you needed to know about - the ongar, the sandcat and zorilla are just a few of the creatures you will meet and who really come to life through humorous text and illustrations, with plenty of jokes thrown in. A great read.

The Street Beneath My Feet by Charlotte Gullian

This is a quite extraordinary book. The double-sided foldouts take the reader on a fascinating journey deep underground in the city and in the country. One side of the foldout shows the ground beneath the city, whilst the reverse side shows the ground beneath the countryside. The underground scenes include tunnels and pipes, creatures' burrows, layers of rock and the planet’s molten core, and run seamlessly into the next.It's very cleverly done, and every time you look, there are new things to spot and appreciate. There's plenty of helpful text to explain what is being seen and the text is well linked to the illustrations. The fold-out, 'laperello’ style, which extends to 2.5 metres in length, is ideal for spreading out on the floor to pore over for hours.Just imagine a group of children marvelling over what they can see! Fascinating.

Lots by Marc Martin

Travel all around the world and enjoy the author's gathering of facts, thoughts and observations about our planet in this wonderfully illustrated celebration of the world we travel far and wide. You will travel from to Hong Kong, the Amazon, Antarctica, India through the villages, towns and cities where most people live, to the deserts and vast oceans that cover the surface of the planet. There is so much to discover - lots of people, lots of places, lots of different landscapes and cultures. All the rich variety of human and animal life is here in a multitude of tiny pictures which together make each page a sheer delight. A wonderful book - a book to dip into time and time again.

Star Wars Rogue One: Mission Files

Top-secret! This book contains files about the characters from the new movie, Star Wars: Rogue One, including in-depth profiles, mission briefings, and more. An imperial weapons test of some kind is imminent; it's time to act to save the empire. Set before Star Wars: A New Hope, Rogue One follows a rag-tag group of rebel commandos who must steal the plans to the Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star. This standalone story transports fans to unseen corners of the Star Wars universe and strange new planets not to mention an encounter with a familiar adversary, Darth Vader. Perfect to accompany the film.

Super Optical Illusions (Carlton Kids) by Gianni A. Sarcone and Marie-Jo Waeber

This intriguing book uses colour, angles and ambiguity to trick the eye.. and then comes the interesting bit - it gives you fascinating explanations of what you are seeing and why you see it. I found myself having to go back to the pictures over and again to see what I really had seen! Often, optical illusions are black and white but here we have a fantastic range of colourful illusions. Enthralling - you'll never believe your eyes again!

LEGO: The Book of Everything from Scholastic

This is a great way to encourage children to take an interest in general knowledge. From the cut-out and embossed cover throughout the book, a wealth of information about our world is presented with the help of LEGO people. Chapters include history; heroes and villains; earth is awesome; home on earth; invention and discovery; 3,2,1, Blast off; cool vehicles; sports crazy and fun stuff. Each spread contains a LEGO scene to enhance the learning journey: a vignette, mini story, or icon featuring LEGO models and characters. The clever graphic design combines the LEGO illustration with real-world photography and facts for an immersive experience. It's an unusual way to present information but it has been cleverly done and it's really effective. LEGO fans will love this highly informative and excellently presented book.

The Pop-Up, Pull Out Human Body from DK

Help children to answer their questions about the human body with this exciting pop-up, pull-out book which will really engage their attention. Packed with facts, the book is perfect to support lower KS2 learning about the human body; the book makes it easy for children to understand how the body works. There's just the one pop-up which is a seated human skeleton who jumps out of the first page. After that, the book explores each organ in turn, looks at how muscles work, what makes the brain tick, and how the body is pieced together. Colourful illustrations show body parts in detail, while slide-out pages add lots of facts. Q and As throughout the book help children to reason on what they have learnt, making learning more effective. The effective layout features information about organs on one side, with the opposing page showing how the organs and other body parts work. Attractive and clear, this is a good introduction.

Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney

Everything that goes to make Australia the country that it is, is showcased in this fascinating book that gives a real insight into life in Australia. Not only does it celebrate the well known Australian flora, fauna and landmarks, such as The Great Barrier Reef and Sydney Harbour Bridge, it also highlights the everyday quirks and idiosyncrasies that make Australia unique. Some of my favourites are the Kite Festival, iconic foods, the variety of wild flowers and chocolate factory. Laid out in Australia-wide entries as well as state and territory specific elements, readers will learn an amazing range of fascinating facts. The detailed drawings are full of intriguing elements, with masses to spot and learn about. A superb book which will keep readers engrossed for hours.

What on Earth? Water by Isabel Thomas

Readers are encouraged to explore and discover this essential element in a variety of ways. There is plenty of emphasis on hands-on tasks - the best way to help children to understand and remember science facts. Children can make a rainbow, a water-powered sprinkler, a mini-pond and secret salt pictures, among a whole range of other activities. Many of the KS2 science topics are covered, including the water cycle and make a precipitation gauge or grow your own stalactite. Children can explore this fascinating book as they like, following the internal links encourage children to choose their own path through the book, with each spread providing a new adventure. The explanations are clear and easy to follow and plentiful illustrations and diagrams help understanding; there are also lots of snippets of interesting information in this excellent book.

What on Earth? Wind by Isabel Thomas

Perfect for enquiring young minds, this is an engaging look at the importance of wind and the myriads of ways in which it affects our lives. It's packed with information, ably supported by the wide-ranging illustrations; the clear layout makes it easy to take in the information. Again, the book is full of hands-on activities to enhance learning, and there are plenty of out-of-the-ordinary ideas - perfect for classroom use as well as at home. How about a wind trap, a sail racer or a wind-sock? A practical flexi-binding makes the books easy to use. These are excellent cross-curricular books which incorporate a whole range of subjects, including English, science, geography and creative activities.

Star Wars: Galactic Atlas by Lucasfilm

This is a superb poster-sized book and a must-have for all Star Wars fans. Illustrated in full dramatic colour by Tim McDonagh, the atlas covers everything from Alderaan and Naboo to Tatooine and Yavin 4, taking in the epic stories, strange creatures and glorious vistas of the entire saga. "Taken from the holdings of the Graf Archive and found in the underground Shadow Stacks, these ancient hand drawn maps were unearthed from the Shadow Stacks. The Head Curator's theory is that they are the work of the great Ithorian artist Gammit Chond. Chond never travelled off-world but he was fascinated by travellers' tales, and many of his works depict their stories of adventure and discovery in the rest of the galaxy. While we know that many of the things he has included are a matter of fact, some may merely be tall tales spun by explorers; but all presents a unique view of a fascinating slice of history." With dozens of maps, star charts, character profiles, and a timeline of the entire saga, this book is the perfect gift for Star Wars fans of all ages .A fantastic and superbly produced gift book that will be returned to over and over again; the perfect companion to the films and one which will enhance enthusiasts' enjoyment.

A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies

This follows the author's wonderful A First Book of Nature, and makes the perfect companion. Wonderfully lyrical text about the animal world is illustrated in outstanding detail by Petr Horacek. Showcasing the marvellous variety of animal life, the book gives us an insight into animals everywhere including polar bears playing on the ice, tigers hunting in the jungle, fireflies twinkling in the evening sky and nightingales singing in the heart of the woods. The perceptive words give us a new slant on the animal world, and this is far from being just a book for children - adults too will appreciate the engaging text and the beauty of the illustrations. The artwork completely fills every page and the vibrancy and liveliness are a real joy. This book is a glorious celebration of life in the wild in all its variety and splendour, and belongs on every family's bookshelf. It really heightens our appreciation of nature and it will make a perfect gift.

Hands-On Science: 50 Kids' Activities from CSIRO by Sarah Kellett

Inquisitive children will love this hands-on book which answers all sorts of questions. Did you ever wonder why some insects can walk on water? Or how the Ancient Egyptians made mummies? Are you curious about why a guitar sounds different from a flute? All the experiments use everyday materials from around the home, and many can be done without adult supervision (where adult help is needed, it is clearly indicated).  The activities cover electricity and magnetism, sound and light, heat and motion, water and gases, living things, shapes and our planet Earth; this is ideal to support KS2 science as many of the main topics are covered. Each activity includes a list of materials required, and gives easy to follow step-by-step instructions and drawings. The range of experiments is really good and many of them produce really exciting and often unexpected reactions. Fast facts and quiz questions help consolidate knowledge, and alongside each activity is a practical explanation of the science behind it, as well as examples of how each principle works in the real world. How about these ideas? Dancing slime; rubbery bones; a ping pong ball shooter; ghastly ghostly photos; and fizzy dinosaur eggs - an enticing collection.

The Hello Atlas by Ben Handicott

Covering more than 130 countries, this informative atlas gives readers an insight into the lives of children all over the world. It celebrates one of humanity's greatest achievements - written and verbal language, through the pages of the book and through the app. Each continent is introduced with a map showing the children who live there, and some of the languages they speak. There are then pictures depicting children's lives in the various countries along with English and native language words. The one- book features more than 100 languages, from well-known and lesser known indigenous languages that introduce us to some of the world's most remote communities. The book has a foreword by ethnobotanist and explorer, Professor Wade Davis. Download the free app to hear more than 100 different languages - sometimes, I feel that apps are included with books as a bit of a gimic, not serving any particular purpose, but this app has real value and it's fascinating to hear the variety of languages. An engrossing book that helps children put languages and peoples into their geographical context.

British Museum: Secret Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Discover the Sunken Cities by Kate Sparrow

This superb book accompanies the British Museum exhibition Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds (May - November 2016). The book tells the story of two magnificent ancient aquatic cities, Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion, which once stood at the mouth of the river Nile. Now the ruins, which first started to be explored in 1997, reveal how their inhabitants lived, worshipped and interacted with their foreign visitors. It's a fascinating account, which will enthrall young and old, as they marvel at the wonders discovered, and the new light thrown on an ancient culture. The book is superbly presented, with an engaging mix of test and visual material, which includes photos and delightful colour drawings, which are in themselves, packed with information. And if that's not enough, there are 120 stickers, a fold-out sticker scene, a press-out-and-make animal sarcophagus, a fold-out map and an illustrated timeline. Wow! A quite fantastic book - I love it.

Gaming Record Breakers by Clive Gifford

Children can have a refreshing break from playing games by reading this engrossing book which is packed with facts, including the longest Minecraft marathon, the most expensive computer game ever made, the richest gaming prizes, the biggest games console... Boys and girls are big fans of all sorts of gaming, and this colourful book will astound them with its facts; there is plenty to lean about the games themselves as well as about the records that have been set. A great way to get keen gamers engaged with a book.

NY is for New York by Paul Thurlby

This is a superb series, one that gives the reader a real insight into cities. Join Paul Thirlby as he takes you on a tour of the Big Apple including the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square and the Yankee Stadium, as well as discovering some lesser known gems. The atmosphere of the city is excellently conveyed, with brief but very informative text. The illustrations are works of art, with a superbly retro feeling, reminiscent of 20s and 30s railway posters - good enough for anyone's wall! The book is produced on heavy cream pages which set the pictures off to perfection. A book which will appeal to all ages - an ideal coffee table book and a perfect gift.

Atlas of Miniature Adventures: A pocket-sized collection of small-scale wonders by Emily Hawkins

This is a perfect pocket-sized book to take with you on a long journey - it's packed with amazing facts that will keep you enthralled through the most tedious of journeys. The book takes the reader on a whistle-stop journey across seven continents, learning about the best small-scale adventures on Earth. Would you like to find a primate that can fit inside a teacup, travel on the world's largest miniature railway, meet 3000 people in a miniature village or find a butterfly as small as a fingernail? They are all here in this absorbing book - and to make sure you haven't missed the tiniest thing, there are 'Can you find? pages at the end. A lovely little book.

What's Below? by Clive Gifford

Encourage children's natural curiosity by discussing with them what might lie beneath their feet - and then amaze them with this lovely book with its cleverly engineered pop-ups. From lush rainforest to mysterious underwater kingdoms, what goes on beneath the snow, the undersea world and a secret world beneath the streets, this gorgeous and captivating pop-up book shows them all in wonderful detail. Compelling facts are told by the expert author and contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica, Clive Gifford, winner of the Royal Society Young People's Book Prize. It's stunningly illustrated, with a wealth of detail to explore and enjoy - for adult and child alike.

Destination: Space by Dr. Christoph Englert

Wide Eyed Editions can be relied on to produce books that are stunningly illustrated and packed with amazing facts - it's always a pleasure when I receive their books for review. The book invites young readers to hop on board the space shuttle and get ready for the ride of their lives as they explore deep space with five fellow space cadets - it's an approachable way to help children get involved with the book. The book takes young explorers into and beyond through our own solar system, to galaxies far and wide. There's a big poster included showing the stars and constellations of the Southern and Northern hemispheres - perfect for a bedroom or classroom wall. Questions are asked and answered as children learn more about the science behind the stars, planets, meteors and comets in our sky, and the history of our universe. The book is superbly illustrated, and will have children in awe at the marvellous universe in all its beauty. A superb book for young and old.

Day of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

There's is always room for another book about dinosaurs, as it is such a popular subject with children. This book presents facts in a simple but informative way, allowing the reader to compare the biggest, fastest and fiercest creatures of the land, sea and sky from four different prehistoric periods: the Triassic, the early Jurassic, the Late Jurassic and the Cretaceous. Sections on diet, weapons and defence and dinosaur senses make this a comprehensive introduction to one of the earth's most successful animals. Full of information, all beautifully presented against coloured backgrounds with plenty of clear, dramatic illustrations that really help the reader understand the world of these creatures. A thrilling and very informative read for any budding paleontologist, brilliantly presented.

50 things you should know about The Tudors by Rupert Matthews

This is an excellent series, with succinctly presented facts in a layout that will appeal to children and make learning easy and enjoyable. In fact, there are far more than 50 facts, because there are 50 two-page spreads, each one containing several facts linked by a common theme. The book covers the exciting and dramatic Tudor period (1485 until 1603). It shows the impact the Tudors had on history, through the lives and actions of the monarchs, and also famous people of the era. Starting with the Wars of the Roses and ending with the linking of England and Scotland, this was an exciting period, and this excellently illustrated book will encourage children to take an interest in history - and supports KS2 learning excellently.

Pharaoh's Fate: Solve the ancient Egyptian mystery by Camille Gautier

This engrossing book takes young readers on a fascinating journey back in time as they learn about ancient Egypt in this thrilling interactive adventure. Someone is plotting to murder the pharaoh and it's up to you to stop them. From the glittering riches of the royal tombs to the bustling markets of ancient Thebes, your journey will require you to decipher hieroglyphs, learn about gods and goddesses, hunt for clues and unmask the culprit before it's too late. It's such a good way to get children to really engage with history, as they work out how to solve the clues. The book is packed with information, and there are lots of informative illustrations too. The challenges will really stretch children, helping them to reason and deduce and the format ensures the learning will be thoroughly embedded. Fascinating and unusual.

Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

This special edition has been produced to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first publication of the inspiring story of Floella Benjamin and her experiences when she first came to England. The start of the book tells of her idyllic life in Tobago. Separated from their parents for 15 months before coming to England, Floella and her siblings were reunited with their parents on arrival in England in 1960. Leaving behind the island paradise of Tobago, they found themselves in a society which rejected them, despite the fact the government had encouraged West Indians to help rebuild the country after the Second World War. Floella realised that she would have to prove herself by working twice as hard and being twice as good as anyone else. By doing so, she has become an inspiration to others, and that message is powerfully conveyed in her account. Michael Frith's wonderful illustrations are poignant and touching, reflecting the feel of the book to perfection.

Secrets of the Sea by Kate Baker

Big Picture Press produce stunning books, always superbly illustrated - a real feast for the eyes. This book is no exception This book takes you on a journey which showcases the beauty of marine life. The reader is taken on an awe-inspiring journey from the shallow sea, to coral gardens, out into the wide blue sea and into the depths of the ocean. Creatures familiar and less-known are illustrated in detailed drawings, which show the patterns off to perfection; each has an accompanying description with plenty of enthralling facts. As you read, you will discover the tiny organisms that are the very building blocks of life - some harmless, some deadly, some alien in appearance, yet others incredibly beautiful. A superb book that will have the reader marvelling at nature's beauty.

Halloween (Flip-Flap Journeys) by Richard Platt

How much do you really know about Halloween? Now's your chance to find out as you join in the Halloween adventure and learn about trick or treating, dressing up, celebrations around the world, spooky creatures and much more. Did you know that the world’s largest pumpkin weighed more than 14 adults? Or that during the Day of the Dead in Mexico, people picnic in graveyards? The engaging approach of this colourful book includes over 50 flaps to explore, each adding to your knowledge of this, the spookiest of festivals. Don't read this one under the bedclothes!

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