Book reviews - non fiction ages 7-11 (page 6)

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. 

Ocean (Lift the Flap Book)​ illustrated by Helene Druvert and written by Emmanuelle Grundmann

From the edges of the shore to the deepest depths, this is a wonderful exploration of the beauties of the ocea. The super-size of this book gives plenty of scope for the wonderful illustrative material. On opening the book, the reader is greeted by a super shimmery delicate cut out that reflects the movement of waves, and that's just the start. The ocean depths are explored in layered pages and there are flaps big and small to explore. Many aspects of sea life are explored, including the Polar oceans, coral reefs, the food chain and waves. It's both informative and visually appealing, raising our awareness of the wonders of the ocean and showing how inmportant it is that we care for this precious resource. A stunning book for young and old to enjoy.

The Book of Trees by Piotr Socha and Wojciech Grajkowski

Like Ocean, this is another remarkable book from Thames and Hudson. Trees are vital to our world and this outstanding book traces their history from the time of the dinosaurs to the current day. The book answers key questions. Why are trees so important? How many types are there? How do they benefit the environment and wildlife? Creatively and imaginatively presented, the book really brings the world of trees to life - almost literally. The illustrations are witty and humorous but never lose sight of their mission to inform and educate; they are reminiscent of botanical drawings in their detail. The text is informative with plenty of little known facts to capture the attention of readers of all ages. My only criticism is that it would be good to have a contents page or index to help navigation, although the book is largely one just to dip into and appreciate. There are prehistoric trees, trees that are not trees, leaves and roots, wood art, topiary and bonsai and lots more to help us appreciate this wonderful resoyrce that is all around us.

Amazing Evolution: The Journey of Life by Anna Claybourne

Children will study evolution at school but it can be a hard concept to grasp. The timescales involved are almost beyond comprehension and the purported changes almost too much to understand. This book helps children to make sense of it, through the evidence around us. There are the fossils of long-dead creatures, the genes that made us and the relationships between all living beings. The book is set out in a clear logical manner, from Understanding Evolution, through Life Through the Ages, The Family Tree, Evolution in Action and on to Amazing Adaptations Fact file. It's full of facts to increase our awe for the natural world and to encourage children to look further into where things originate. The text is child-friendly and accessible and understanding is helped by the colourful illustrations that help put it all into context. Clear layout makes the pages appealing and the information easy to find. An excellent book.

40 Inspiring Icons: Super Scientists by Anne Blanchard

The succinct format of these brief biographies is ideal for children, as it gives them an overview and the incentive to seek out more information. They also give an insight into a non-fiction subject through 40 of its celebrated people. To whittle down the famous scientists to 40 is quite a task but the author has done well to bring us a cross-section from different disciplines and backgrounds, men and women, to showcase brilliant scientific ideas. It shows how important questioningvwas in the development of ideas, and the questions that scientists explored. The information is set out in informative chunks of text which are easy to read an dremember. Well presented and easy to use.

40 Inspiring Icons: Black Music Greats by Olivier Cachin

Learn about the most inspirational movers, shakers and innovators in black music history; their iconic shows, their techniques, friends, rivals and nicknames. Interestingly, and a great way to generate further interest, some of the artist profiles have 5 must-listen-to tracks: perfect for the budding audiophile. The visual presentation of the books is excellent. Each musician has a full page image which reflects the information given in the text, shows the personality cleverly, and is labelled to show the key components of the person and their lives. These make the facts more memorable, and the brief caption for each is cleverly done - meet 'The Master of the Blues', 'The Fallen Angel' and 'The Golden Voice of Soul'. A good way to learn about musical greats and to inspire children, both keen and reluctant readers, to enjoy discovering what lies behind iconic people.

Dangerous Dinosaurs (Lift-The-Flap History)​ by Joshua George

The book starts with a visit to the Dinosaur Museum - lift the flaps to discover the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous eras, and then explore the colourful pages to find out who loved when. Children will discover the answers to all sorts of questions as they lift the flaps and enjoy the humorous scenes illustrated by Ed Myer. Full of factss that bring history to life, the lift-the-flap format is engaging and helps retention of information. The illustrations are well labelled and the dinosaurs are friendly and attractive. With over 100 facts and 50 flaps, there's plenty to hold the attention of young dinosaur fans.

Paper World: Planet Earth by Bomboland

The die-cut cover of Planet Earth is just the start to this engrossing book which uses ingenious paper cuts to showcase the beauty of planet earth. There are 30 flaps to lift, which show amazing facts and pictures of many aspects of out world, including volcanoes, glaciers, caves, oceans and weather. An informative glossary helps children's understanding and adds to the book's value as background reading for KS2 geography. The finely detailed art by paper-cut studio Bomboland is packed with well-presented information in succinct chunks just right for children to learn. The presentation is excellent and it's a book that will appeal to all ages - one to dip into and enjoy.

Why Can’t I Feel the Earth Spinning?: And other vital questions about science by James Doyle

The question and answer format is always a good one for children, as it responds to their needs and has something to appeal to everyone. 22 questions are answered, from apparent trivia such as 'Is my hair strong enough to climb?' to the big issues like 'How is a star born?'. This varied approach is fascinating, with one page discussing the question and answer, and the complementary page asking further linked questions on a similar theme. This helps children understand how science underlies everything from the ingredients in our fridge to reaching the moon. The writing style is friendly and approachable and packs in a huge number of facts. The illustrations by Claire Goble are equally informative and in a very attractive style; they are complemented by a selection of appropriate art works and photos. A well presented and really interesting book.

The Story of Flight by Jakob Whitfield

The history of flight is an engrossing story, reflecting man's determination to conquer the seemingly impossible. The book starts with the earliest dreams of flight, including Icarus and Leonardo da Vinci. As the book progresses, we see how each development led to the next. This stunningly illustrated guide includes balloons and airships, bombers and passenger planes and even the latest stealth jet. It shows how man has used flight for good, and also the devastation caused by it, especially during the Second World War. It discusses the practical uses of flight and gives an insight onto airports and holiday flights; the environmental impact is not forgotten, either. In many ways, the history of flight is the history of man and this is well demonstrated by this wonderfully set out and presented book with its clear text and fact-packed illustrations. The presentation of the book is such that it will appeal to adults and children alike.

The Wonderful World of Clothes by Emma Damon

Life in many countries is really brightened up by the colourful clothing worn, and this book gives a fascinating overview that also encourages a look into the culture of various countries. It's arranged by theme - hot and cold, sports and travel being just a few. There are clothes for specific jobs, astronauts, firemen and deep-sea divers; clothes for festivals like Chinese weddings or the Vietnamese Moon Festival. And outfits wouldn't be the same without special hats, shoes and jewellery. There's an interesting look at the future, with recycling, 3D printers and space-age fabrics. It's a fascinating look with a huge variety of clothes included and it inevitably leads to questions about why people dress as they do, encouraging children to delve further. The detailed ilustrations show detail of the areas as well as the clothes, giving a good cultural insight.

Amazing Expeditions: Journeys That Changed The World​ by Anita Ganeri

There is seemingly no end to man's urge to discover - throughout history, adventurers have always wondered what is beyond the next mountain, ocean, river... or even, in our modern world, planet. These journeys have been life-changing as explorers discovered new lands, built trade routes, found treasure and new foods, made scientific discoveries which have impacted on us all... the list goes on and we owe a great debt to these brave adventurers. Following the introductoty pages, readers will meet explorers including Hanno the Navigator (6th - 5th centuries BC), Vasco da Gama (15th century) and Mary Kingsley (19th century). Follow each one's tale through arrowed paragraphs which clearly define the journeys they took, and enjoy the lovely detailed drawings and maps which are full of background information. A delight of a book, beautifully produced and fascinating to read.

Odd Science - Incredible Creatures by James Olstein

Did you know? ... this is definitely a book that will have children avidly sharing fascinating facts with others. There was a giant turtle that ate crocodiles... the praying mantis can turn its head 180 degrees... there are pigeons who can tell the difference between works by Picasso and Monet. These are just a few of the dozens of weird and wacky facts that you've never heard before. It's a lovely book to browse through, enhanced by James Olstein's quirky illustrations that cleverly highlight the weird facts - there's the baby sea turtle in bed, the spider on a life raft and hand-holding otters. The animal world is truly wonderful nd never ceases to amaze us.

How Airports Work (Lonely Planet Kids) by Clive Gifford

I like the fact that the book starts with the history of airports, so children can see how they have changed - and improved, as shown in the big fold-out of a modern airport; there are more big fold-outs further on. This interactive book is packed with flaps to lift, allowing children to discover the hidden secrets of the airport, right from arrival at the airport to departure on the plane. It's full of amazing facts and detailed illustrations by James Gulliver Hancock. Next time you are waiting at the airport, your inside knowledge will make much more sense of what is happening - this is reassuring for children who love to know exactly why things happen. It's an excellently presented book which looks at many aspects of airports in a lively and engaging way that is full of information. Lonely Planet Kids produce some exceptional books for children, encouraging their curiosity and love of discovery; there's a whole team of global experts behind the books, and that really shows.

Ancient Wonders Then and Now (Lonely Planet Kids) by Stuart Hill

Reading about the marvellous constructions of ancient times gives a real insight into their creators and their culture, giving children an excellent basis for learning. They will be over-awed by this superbly presented book which illustrates in great detail some of history's most famous civilisations and the amazing palaces, temples and buildings they created. It's fascinating to compare then and now, as the book shows what the places would look like, and what is left for us to appreciate today. By opening the big fold-out pages and lifting flaps, the book shows these wonders were built and highlights the amazing achievements they were for their time. The places are put into context as readers discover how they were used, how contemporaries viewed them - and how they look today. The Parthenon, Angkor Wat, Petra and the Terracotta Army are just some of the huge variety of places included. A lavishly presented book, illustrated by Lindsey Spinks, which gives an insight into ancient cultures, leading to a deeper understanding; it's packed with interesting information.

Paperscapes: The Spectacular Journey into Space by Kevin Pettman

Take a fresh look at space in this fascinating book with press-out diecut pages which reveal a gallery of planets, rockets, rovers, stars, space probes and more. The book showcases the natural wonders found in space as well as the man-made objects that have been sent into space to discover what's there. The unique diecut format of the book allows the dramatic photos to leap off the page - just press out the shapes to create an out-of-this-world galaxy. Fact boxes and Did You Know... ? sections add to the information included. From the Space Shuttle to the Space Launch System, there's something new to discover with every turn of the page in this unusual book; children will be helped to lrearn and remember by the highly visual approach.

100 Facts Stars & Galaxies (Pocket Edition) by Clive Gifford

Space is a topic that engages children and they are always full of questions about it. The short question and answer format of these books is ideal. Young readers will learn all sorts of facts, including how a star is born, which is the brightest star, what happens when galaxies collide, how many stars exist in the Milky Way and much more. The book covers a wide range of topics from supernovas and black holes, to dwarfs and supergiants, making it the ideal compantion for KS2 science. Attractively laid out, there are plenty of excellent photos. The succinct format makes the book accessible to children and captures their attention. 100 Facts is an extensive series from Miles Kelly, covering a wide range of subjects; these Pocket Editions are fantastic value and a great addition to children's libraries.

100 Facts Roman Britain (Pocket Edition) by Philip Steele

Children in KS2 will study the Romans, so this book will make a good introduction to stimulate their interest and give them a grounding in finding out about the Romans in our country. The 100 Facts format takes a series of common questions and gives succinct answers. Topics include conquest, work, armies, towns, relaxation and faith, and there are questions grouped together under each theme; this is a good way to encourage children to look further once they have found a fact of interest. It's good to see that the books in the series have extensive and comprehensive indexes; as well as helping children navigate the books, they also learn essential research skills. Bright presentation and short easily assimilated facts are perfect for children.

100 Facts Dinosaur Science (Pocket Edition) by Steve Parker

We are constantly learning new facts about dinosaurs as more and more discoveries are made. Keep up to date with the latest science with the 100 facts revealed by this well-illustrated book which shows how new light has revolutionised the way we see dinosaurs. It's interesting to see how theories evolve and it's a good learning curve for children as they see how ideas change and move forward. 'I Don't Believe It' fact boxes contain just the sort of out-of-the-way information children love. The illustrations are excellent and really bring these magnificent creatures to life. An excellent book, appealingly presented, clear and easy to use and packed with information to encourage children to find out more. The authors of the books in the series are experienced in writing for children, so the books are pitched at the right level and contain information relevant to the curriculum as well as to children's interests.

Everyday Journeys of Ordinary Things by Libby Deutsch

It's lovely to be with children who are inquisitive about the world around them, but we don't always know the answers to their questions. This fascinating book has the answers to lots of their questions (and adults may well learn too!). It looks at the way everyday things work from start to finish - the things we so often take for granted. How does our online shopping reach us? How do we receive post? How does music get to us? The answers to these, and many more questions are given through text and illustration that flows through the pages with numbered sections that make it easy to follow. The illustrations (by Valpuri Kerttula) are lively and delightful and really clarify the explanations. Children are also introduced to the journeys of more abstract concepts such as information and money. This is a fascinating book, well presented and packed with interesting information to help children make sense of the world around them.

To the Moon and Back by Buzz Aldrin

This engrossing book is published by National Geographic, who make the very most of the fantastic resources at their disposal to bring superb children's books to the market. Unbelievably, it is 50 years since the Apollo 11 Mission and man's first steps on the moon. Space exploration has come a long way since then but this still remains a defining moment, vividly and memorably brough to life in Buzz Aldrin's words and through paper engineer Bruce Foster's superbly intricate pop-up adventures, accompanied by informative text about the whole journey. The book gives an excellent overall view with historical context, stunning photos and telling personal perspectives. The book comes with a self-assembly lunar module to add to the fun value. A really good way to ensure today's children learn about and value this great achievement for mankind.

Pirates: True Stories of Seafaring Rogues by Anne Rooney

Pirates have been around throughout history and around the globe, and they never fail to fascinate. They include some of the most well-known names in history - Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, the Barbarossa Brothers and Anne Bonney (a surprising number of pirates were women). The highly visual approach will engage children and gives a good amount of period detail to make history more interesting; highly visual maps and curiosities explore all the incredible details of life as a pirate on the high seas, and just what it was like living as a pirate. The book has an excellent glossary and comprehensive index, making it really useful for reference, and as a teaching aid.

Infopedia 2019 from National Geographic Kids

Ready for 2019 comes the latest version of this colourful fact and fun packed infopedia. Avid readers will discover the up-to-date facts about what's new and newsworthy, in our world, special dates to anticipate, features about all manner of things, animal stories, ways to change the world, succinct information about countries and continents and much more. These are all accompanied by masses of superb photos, maps, puzzles, homework help... the list goes on. It's a fascinating book - one to dip into rather than to read cover to cover. There is a really excellent index, which highlights the main entries for each subject; this is a really valuable part of the book and excellent for homework as well as general interest. "19 Facts for 2019" feature in every chapter and there are even more extras online. A book that will be used through the year and in years to come as much of the information does not date, superbly presented with great child-appeal.

A Story About Cancer (With a Happy Ending) by India Desjardins and Marianne Ferrer

I am so pleassed that the book title includes 'with a happy ending' or children may well be deterred from reading it; I know I would be. A teenage girl heading towards the hospital appointment when the doctors are going to tell her how much time she's got to live reflects on her journey so far. All sorts of things are flooding into her mind - the terrible decor in the hospital, wearing a headscarf, the horrible treatments, but also being with her friends, family, and her new boyfriend Victor. You really feel for her and despite at all, she keeps a sense of humour and perspective. This is a story about cancer with a happy ending. It's about life, love, and especially, hope.

Ultimate Superstars: Beyonce by Melanie Hamm

Books like this are excellent for building confidence in children, showing them that, even from unlilkely beginnings, success is possible. This is the story of how a shy young girl from Houston, Texas rose to fame in one of the world's bestselling girl groups in history, before becoming an award-winning solo artist. This retelling of Beyoncé's story is perfect for young fans to learn about the early life of a music legend, and relive her incredible rise to fame. The narrative style means the book reads almost like fiction, making it easy to read. This series is a good one to encourage children to read, as they will enjoy learning about their favourite stars.

Ultimate Superstars: Ariana Grande by Liz Gogerly

Another book written is a friendly approachable narrative style for enjoyable reading - and such accounts really do often seem like fiction, so remarkable are the achievements from even humble beginnings. This is the story of how a young girl from Florida began her career in musical theatre, before a big break on television propelled her to international stardom. This retelling of Ariana's life story is perfect for young fans to learn about the early life of a musical megastar, and her amazing rise to fame. Based on the popular format of the Ultimate Football Heroes series, this series will be especially enjoyed by girls who will love reading about the stories behind today's megastars.

So You Think You've Got It Bad? A Kid's Life in Ancient Greece by Chae Strathie

Children will appreciate ther lives more when they find out how tough it was in Ancient Greece! It sounds great - lots of sun and those exciting Games to enjoy. The author has taken a hilarious look at what life really was like for children - from dodgy haircuts to houses made of mud and curdled milk of breakfast. Today's life is vividly contrasted with that of Ancient Greece, with all the sorts of fascinating facts that children love, including the lack of toilets and no baths. The super and colourful ilustrations by Marisa Morea complement the text, bring the world of Ancient Greece alive. Packed with facts and fun, this is irresistible and highly recommended. It's a great way to really immerse children in history - they can really relate to the book and it provides an excellent background to studies.

The Brontës by Anna Doherty

Appropriately subtitled The Fantastically Feminist (and Totally True) Story of the Astonishing Authors, this is a fascinating introduction to the famous literary family, ideal for young readers. Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Branwell Brontë have left us a lastiing legacy, firmly rooted in their background of the wild, lonely moors of Yorkshire. Find out how their imaginations were developed as children when they create the imaginary world called Glass Town, full of wars and love stories, soldiers, heroes and villains, which forms the basis for many later works. As they grow up, the Brontë girls discover that the real world isn't such a great place to be a girl and they first publish books under male pseudonyms. They are so determined that their voices be heard, they overcome almost unbeatable odds to be bestselling authors. It's an uplifting and fascinating insight into a talented and determined family, with superb illustrations by the author.

See Inside Bridges, Towers and Tunnels from Usborne Books

Usborne really are masters of lift-the-flap books. They are an excellent way to capture children's attention and to present information in easily assimilated amounts. This title is perfect to support the engineering strand of STEM teaching as children explore the pages to reveal the mechanics and engineering of amazing bridges, towers and tunnels. The colourful pages are full of facts and figures about a range of constructions from around the world, including the CN Tower, the Channel Tunnel, the Burj Khalifa, Golden Gate Bridge and more. The book is themed by type of construction, for example skyscrapers and suspension bridges. The detailed illustrations are very informative and there are links to websites to see views from the top of the Shard and CN tower, travel through tunnels and see the enormous machines used to create them. It's a shame the book doesn't include an index, though, to complete the information value.

Usborne 1000 Things to Eat

This is an engrossing book which really highlights the wonderful range of foods available today. Every one of the 1000 things to eat is illustrated - and I am pleased to see an extensive index to help children locate their favourite foods. The grouping of foods is excellent and includes meals (eg breakfast), food at home (eg the store cupboard), shops, celebrations (eg Ramadan) and a whole range of restaurants featuring cuisines from round the world. I really like this last section as it will be perfect to study before a meal out, so you can make informed choices. It's a brilliant way to stimulate discussion, to encourage adventurous eating and to guide and inform visits to the supermarket; it also gives an good insight into different cultures. A great book with many different uses.

Cyrus Field's Big Dream: The Daring Effort to Lay the First Transatlantic Telegraph Cable by Mary Morton Cowan

In this age of instant communication, we still owe a great deal to the pioneers who set the foundation for world-wide communication, and we should acknowledge their enterprise and determination. The laying of a transatlantic telegraph cable was a tremendous feat in Victorian times, linking North America and the United Kingdom. Cyrus Field was a determined and enterprising man who learntabout undersea cables and raised money to fund his dream. Despite many setbacks, he continued his work which was completed in the summer of 1866. A fascinating and well-written account which will interest both children and adults - it's little-known and so it's really good to see such a comprehensive and well illustrated book, which is excellently presented. Published by Highlights, November 2018, ISBN 9781629795560.

Art and How it Works: An Introduction for Children from Usborne

Starting with cave paintings and finishing at digital art, this takes children on a journey through the history of art. Written in child-friendly and approachable language, this is an easy book for children to read, helping them understand the different forms of art and the way they have evolved. Reading the book will encourage their own creativity as they explore shapes, colors, patterns, styles, themes and techniques, discovering how they have been used over the centuries. Famous paintings are liberally pictured through the book, and children are encouraged to think about them by answering the questions which provide excellent topics for discussion. A clear timeline is a very useful feature, as is the index and list of art galleries. A clear and concise introduction which will stimulate interest.

The Secret Life of the Red Fox by Laurence Pringle

Follow a year in the life of a red fox through lyrical narrative text and evocative illustrations. Every part of day-to-day life is covered through factual and beautifully expressed text, accompanied by stunning illustrations by the very talented Kate Garchinsky, who brings us superbly detailed paintings that show the fox and her environment perfectly - they really are outstanding. Join Vixen as she finds food, hunts, escapes threats, finds a mate and raises her kits ready to set out in the world on their own. It's a fascinating insight into a beautiful creature. Additionale in-depth information, a glossary, and further resources complement the book. Published by Boyds Mills Press, ISBN 978-1629792606.

Space Record Breakers by Annie Rooney

Children are always fascinated by records - the biggest, the hottest, the fastest - and they are also keen to learn about space, so this book of space record breakers is bound to be popular. It's hard for the human brain to comprehend time being measured in billions of years, and distances in trillions of miles, but this colourful and informative book takes the incredible facts and presents them in an accessible way. The plethora of facts are accompanied by exceptional illustrations. It's a book of two parts, the natural wonders of space plus the past, present and future of humankind's exploration. It's an excellent read which makes space understandable to children, and a good support for the KS2 science curriculum.

Sharks by Ben Hubbard

The book is subtitled 'Get up close to nature's fiercest predators' and it certainly succeeds in doing just that. Spectacular CGI art takes the reader into the undersea world and the incredible stories told increase our awe for these magnificent creatures. From great whites to goblin and tiger sharks, here are the most fascinating species in amazing detail, expertly and very readably presented by a marine biologist. The first hand accounts of shark sightings are dramatic and compelling and make excellent reading. The visual material is well presented, linking well to the information boxes. Sharks might be fearsome, but they need protecting just as much as other creatures so it's good to find the book includes information about conservation.

Terrible Trenches Field Book (Horrible Histories Novelty) by Terry Deary

This is a fascinating and revealing guide to life in the trenches which will interest all ages with its wide-ranging information and appealing presentation. Almost everyone will be familiar with the Horrible Histories books and the way they have give history an appeal for so many; this carries the concept forward with excellent illustrative material including paper novelty elements. The topic is serious though, and children need to know about the horrors of war, and the book does an excellent job of presenting at the right level. From foul food to legions of lice - life in the trenches was undoubtedly tough. There are some fascinating facts to discover and the book really is jam-packed with information. It's an excellent way to give children a picture of the horrors of war - it's realistic but tempered with humour.

Rebel Cats! Brave Tales of Feisty Felines by Kimberlie Hamilton

It's official - cats are amazing! And you will have to agree once you have read these accounts of some truly amazing cats. Travel around the world and through the centuries with over thirty true-life stories of fantastic felines who have achieved all manner of amazing things. There are wartime heroes, marvellous mousers, explorer cats, musical cats and even a library cat. Lots of appealing full-page illustrations are a real feature of the book. The fascinating accounts are interspersed with lots of cat information and incredible facts, making this an ideal gift for all cat lovers.

Meet the Pirates by James Davies

You might think children of 6+ wouldn't be very interested in books about history - but this is a series that they definitely will want to read! Pirates are a popular topic in schools, and one that really engages children's attention. Now they can learn all about pirates, from famous characters to scurvy and hygiene - everything they need to know is here. Each topic covers two pages, with clear labelling down the page edges to make the book easy to navigate. Each spread includes age-appropriate levels of information accompanied by limited colour palette drawings that are vivid and full of detail - with plenty of interjections from the pirates themselves! The vivid artwork and infographics give the book a fresh appeal that children won't be able to resist.

Meet the Ancient Greeks by James Davies

This is another excellently presented book, in an attractive square format hardback with top quality shing paper which sets the illustrations off really well. It's a perfect short introduction which is ideal for readers who are beginning to explore ancient history - and Ancient Greeks will be studied at school. Readers will get to know the basics on Ancient Greece from religious ceremonies to day to day life, with easy-to-digest, humorous text accompanied by detailed and engrossing illustrations that pack in plenty of humorous detail to bring these ancient people to life for today's children. A good way to encourage reluctant readers too. These books are an excellent mix of history and humour - they are presented in a way that will appeal to the majority of children and encourage them to enjoy learning, and want to know more.

A World of Discovery by James Brown and Richard Platt

Find some of the most fascinating inventions in history stylishly presented in this giant-sized and most impressive book. Print-maker James Brown takes the reader on a journey through history, showcasing the inventions that have affected the world. Discover fascinating facts and figures about space travel, the human body, time, the computer and much more all illustrated with stunning and fascinating detail. Accompanying the remarkable illustrations, which are shown at their best by the large format, are easy-to-read explanations by celebrated author Richard Platt. With more than 30 celebrated inventions, including the wheel, the compass, steam power, radio, satellites and the internet. It's a great mix that will fascinate young and old; a lovely gift book for the whole family. There's plenty for everyone to learn and enjoy.

Fantastic People Who Dared to Fail: True stories of people who changed the world by falling down first by Luke Reynolds

Failure is not necessarily a bad thing! It may seem that success has come easily to some, but this book shows how even very well-known people met with failure originally - and overcame it. This paffirmative gbook shows how falling down can just be the first step to making big things happen. After all, if 12 publishers can turn down J.K. Rowling and James Dyson needed to create over five thousand prototypes before getting his innovative vacuum right, there's hope for everyone! An inspiring book, with many fascinating real-life accounts, that encourages us to persevere, never to give up, however hard things might be.

Discover our Solar System by Colin Stuart

Take a fascinating journey around our solar system from the sun, through all the planets and on to dwarf planets and everything else that makes space such a marvellous and incredible place. Perfect for KS2 children, who will learn about the solar system as part of the curriculum, this well presented and superbly illustrated book makes learning a complex subject enjoyable and understandable, with text pitched at just the right level for the age. It will increase children's awe for what lies beyond earth as they admire the beauty of our solar system and learn fascinating facts. From the Big Bang, they will discover how our solar system came into existence, and study the history and future of space exploration. Comprehensive content but not overwhelming - perfectly pitched. Published by Button Books, October 2018, ISBN-13: 978-1787080164.

The Big History Timeline Wallbook by Christopher Lloyd

"Unfold the History of the Universe from the Big Bang to the Present Day" - it's a big ask but the wonderful people at What on Earth? books have done it brilliantly. This unique wallbook includes a 2 metre-long fold-out timeline cwith over 1,000 pictures and captions that tell the story of the history of the world. The timeline is divided into 12 sections covering both natural history (this really helps put events into context and give a wider meaning than more timelines offer) as well as the history of human civilisations in each of the world's continents. It's amazingly clear to read, despite the small print needed to get all the information in. In case you struggle, though, there's a magnifier slotted into a pocket at the front of the book. Good use of background colours helps separate out each continent and it's simple to compare what was happening across the world at any given moment in time. As well as the timeline, the Wallbook Chronicle includes more than 30 newspaper-style articles and a 50-question quiz. Perfect for 6-14 year olds but equally fascinating for all curious adults.It's a book that will intrigue all ages, with so much to learn and appreciate. It can be hard for children to put historical events into context, but this really helps, and it will stimulate them to investigate in more depth. Excellently done.

Timelines of Everything by DK Children

So often children are not taught about events and discoveries in date sequence, so a book like this is brilliant to put everything into context, and to show how one development affects the next. This is far more than just a history timeline book - it's an illustrated history of the world shown through 130+ timelines that cover all manner of subjects that will interest children. Starting in prehistoric times with the Big Bang, it includes dinosaurs, writing, The Crusades, African Kingdoms, The Reformation, the rise of science, the World Wars and the digital age. Lavishly illustrated, full of surprising facts and amazing details, such as the most bloodthirsty pirate of all time and the first crime to be solved by study Timelines of Everything will take the reader on a comprehensive journey through time. At times, the history curriculum can seem quite restrictive, but with so much to cover, it's hard to know what to leave out. Now children can explore as much as they want of the events that took place around the periods they study, thereby gaining a broader perspective and greater understanding. Must-know topics and alternative history are showcased with beautiful, detailed illustrations and straightforward, easy-to-read text; of course, being a DK book, there is a strong emphasis on illustrative material, making the book extremely attractive to read. With so much information, navigation could be a problem, so I am pleased to see a really comprehensive index, with main entries highlighted in bold. A fascinating book, beautifully presented - one for the family reference library.

The Greatest Showman - The Official Companion to the Hit Film by Signe Bergstrom

The film is the story of P.T. Barnum, from his growing up in Connecticut, to his arrival in New York City with a head full of dreams and a heart bursting with adventure. This superbly presented book is going to be a huge hit with the many fans of this film which has thrilled audiences since its release in 2017. The infectious show stopping performances and original soundtrack have made it one of the highest grossing live-action musicals ever. This book is a worthy companion, and readers will find exquisite photography, exclusive interviews, lyrics and never-seen-before concept art. The book is beautifully printed on glossy paper, which does full justice to the photography and makes the book a sheer delight. With a foreword from the film’s director, Michael Gracey, this is the perfect way to celebrate this blockbuster musical and the ideal gift for fans of the film. - and those who haven't seen it will be amazed by the stunning photographs and will want to see the film for themselves.

Maps of the United Kingdom by Rachel Dixon

It's brilliant to see a collection of maps based entirely on the UK, and these will really help children to get to know where they live. Take a tour of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, county by county and meet the incredible people born there, learn about its proud history, and discover ancient castles, modern feats of engineering and natural highlights. Each map shows the main towns - although you will need to use a scale map alongside if you want to go visiting, as this is very much a pictorial introduction. The book is packed with information and attractive illustrations complement this. There are also portraits of famous people associated with the county. A really detailed index is a great feature, enabling readers to look for all their favourite places Sometimes, children find it hard to inter-relate places, but this colourful and informative book will help put it all into context.

Dictionary of Dinosaurs: an illustrated A to Z of every dinosaur ever discovered edited by Dr Matthew G Baron

Wow! What a fabulous book for dinosaur fans, young and old. Every dinosaur that has ever been discovered is included in this super book. From Aardonyx to Zuniceratops, read about when they lived, where they lived, what they ate and much more. A useful introduction shows how to navigate the book, and explains that fact files, scale Latin Names, pronunciation and meaning are included for every dino featured... and that's all of them! A highlight of the book is the outstanding artwork from Dieter Braun, which gives the best possible impression of what we know about each one. There are up-to-date facts from top dinosaur experts - and a reminder that research shows up new facts all the time. Navigation is helped by the alphabet down the side of the pages. As well as the well-known dinosaurs such as Diplodocus, T-rex, Triceratops,Velociraptor, Stegosaurus and Brachiosaurus, meet the Chaoyangsaurus, the Maiasaura, the Nomingia and the Prenocephale. A wonderful reference book for dino fans young and old.

Young Heroes (Amazing People) by Lula Bridgeport

Young people around the world make amazing achievements and they are an inspiration to us all, and especially to our young ones; nothing is impossible is the message of this encouraging book. Featuring an international selection of over 100 young people, this collection highlights the stories of musical talents, environmental activists, engineers, artists and authors, as well as political voices, among others. All the people included are still alive, so children can follow their real-life progress by doing further research. The areas of interest are wide-ranging - and people are grouped into seven areas. Included are entertainers such as Taylor Swift and Daniel Radcliffe, sporting heroes like Pele and Martina Hingis, and business entrepreneurs Tavi Gevinson and Jordan Casey. Super coloured drawings by a rabnge of artists give a picture of each person and their area of expertise. At the end of each section there's a look back at associated prodigies through history, making for a comprehensive and well-rounded book. I'm disappointed that there's no index though.

Rivers by Peter Goes

Gecko Press have really done the subject justice by presenting us with a super-size book that gives full scope to the material included. Rivers have been an essential part pf man's life through history, and much of our development is owed to rivers. This breathtaking journey takes us along the most significant rivers in the world, including the Nile, the Amazon, the Mekong Delta, the Mississippi, the Murray and the Waikato... and of course, our own Thames. The book is laid out by continent and maps show exactly where each river flows - do make sure children use this feature to benefit fully.. Each illustration includes major events and historical figures connected with its river, and also favourite stories and icons, giving us a well-rounded and lively picture. A fascinating book, beautifully illustrated in a restricted colour palette which has plenty of impact and doesn't obscure the facts. But I do wish there was an index.

Atlas of Adventures: Wonders of the World by Ben Handicott

Another wonderful oversize book - so many of these books are a real treat to review! This is another in the acclaimed Atlas of Adventures series and I think it's the best... so far! Readers will journey around the world visiting wonders both man-made and natural. Marvel at most impressive landscapes, iconic buildings and evocative antiquities from both the modern and ancient worlds, all depicted in detailed two page spreads which are packed with informative illustrations by Lucy Letherland. Accompanying the pictures is an outline of the topic and plenty of facts, and these will really interest children. The book is laid out by continent, and a big world map plus continent maps help children locate each marvel. It's a superb book and the large size really does the subject justice - I can see children lying on the floor, sharing this book as they pore over the marvels of our fantastic world. A perfect gift book.

Adventures in Space by Simon Tyler

Encourage children's interest in space with this inspiring book about space, space travel and much more. The eye-catching presentation really attracted me to the book - many of the images (and they are superbly crisp and clear) are presented against a black background and this, coupled with the high quality shiny paper, really gives an excellent effect. Amazing facts abound in this lavishlyillustrated guide to Space. Space is fascinating, and in this book Simon Tyler gorgeously illustrates the planets, meteors, rockets and galaxies - even strange phenomena like the speed of light and solar flares! The glossary is comprehensive and useful but an index would have been a welcome addition. However, that aside, this is a superb book which will increase children's appreciation for the wonders of space.

How To Think Like An Absolute Genius by Philippe Brasseur

At a time when children are under increasing stress, facing pressures from many different directions, they need to have self-confidence built - and that's where this book comes in. Reading the accounts of 27 inspirational people, including  John Lennon, Pablo Picasso, Walt Disney and Copernicus, will show children that there are many different ways to tackle tasks and challenges - and no one way is right or wrong. The geniuses featured in this inspiring book come from a range of eras and disciplines – artists, scientists, thinkers or writers – entrust you with their "creative methods". The book is full of facts, games and activity ideas, all presented in a zany and eye-catching style which encourages young readers to move around the book seeking (and finding) inspiration. The book goes to show just how much can be achieved by thinking 'outside the box' and by being willing to try things out. But, once again, I do wish publishers would include an index.

Boys Who Made a Difference by Michelle Roehm McCann

There have been so many books published this year (2018) to commemorate women getting the vote, that's it's really good to review one that focuses on boys' achievements. From Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Nelson Mandela, Vidal Sassoon to Bob Dylan, Tony Hawk to Matt Groening, all these young men achieved remarkable things from a surprising young age - and often went on to achieve much more. It features young men from across history and around the globe who have all achieved remarkable things. Also included are profiles of teenagers who are changing the world right now; these will really interest readers as they see what can be achieved. These are boys like John Collinson, the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits, and Alec Loorz, who founded the non-profit organisation Kids vs. Global Warming. With its lively writing style, this is an easy and engaging book to read, full of inspiration and including some enterprising boys whose names may be unfamiliar.

Famous Family Trees: Explore 25 Family Trees From History

This is an unusual and fascinating book, giving us a real insight into the families that lie behind some very famous people; many of those people who wouldn't have been who they are without their families - and others who succeeded despite their families. This is a compendium of family trees featuring some of history’s most loved — and loathed — famous faces for all ages to explore. Among those included are Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Ada Lovelace and Nelson Mandela - an eclectic collection. No contents page or index, though, mean finding a specific person is challenging. Family trees can look very boring, but not these, with their highly visual presentation and portraits of all those in the family tree. There's plenty of information about all the people too.

All Aboard the Voyage of Discovery by Emily Hawkins and Tom Adams

This is a fascinating interactive book which really intrigues the reader, giving lots to think about. Join an illustrious collection of great minds on board the Voyage of the Discovery in 1927. Travelling companions from the fields of science, engineering, geography and history unite to our how communication has taken many forms over the years, including the printing press, radio, telephones and television. But a challenge awaits in this wonderful Art Deco inspired illustrated book with lots of flaps to explore to help solve the mystery of the missing movie. This wonderfully stylish book will appeal to any age, all of whom will enjoy the evocative period ephemera, which includes postcards and tickets to booklets, code ciphers and maps. A world-wide adventure which will keep you guessing as well as providing lots of knowledge about inventions including pencils, semaphore, photography and cinema. Fascinating.

The A - Z of Wonder Women by Yvonne Lin

26 inspiring, empowering, incredible women make up this book - one for each letter of the alphabet. We all need people to look up to, and they give us inspiration and empower us to achieve. This book brings incredible women out of the shadows, celebrating their success and acknowledging their achievements. Each woman is featured on a single page, with a portrait, a quote and a summary of achievement. It's good to see a range of people, including many lesser-known. They include Harriet, Hiker of the Highlands, Grace O'Malley, Ada Lovelace and Oprah Winfrey. There are 30 brief biographies of more high-achieving women, to round the book out. A colourful little book, full of inspiring accounts.

Illuminatlas illustrated by Carnovsky, written by Kate Davies

This is the third book in the series from Wide Eyed Editions, following on from Illuminature and Illumanatomy. This unique atlas allows readers to see the world in three different ways - its history, art and culture; geography; and plants and amimals. Just use the different coloured lenses (included) to see each one - use your green lens to see the landscape, the red lens to see plants and animals, and the blue lens to see cultural highlights and famous buildings. It takes a little while to get used to viewing in this way, but you will be well rewarded when you do. The book is laid out by continent and the useful and informative field facts complement the pictures perfectly. This giant-sized book is full of fascinating facts and outstanding illustrations, bringing a new perspective on the world.

Forgotten Beasts by Matt Sewell

This superbly illustrated book is a real joy to read. The subtitle on the cover is 'Amazing Creatures that Once Roamed the Earth' - and they truly are amazing! This large format looks at the amazing beasts from times long ago, some familiar (by name at least) and others you will never have heard about before. The sabre-toothed tiger and the woolly mammoth will be familiar names, but what about the Jaekelopterus with its huge claws, the Phorusrhacos, a carnivorous flightless bird, or the Diprotodon, the largest known marsupial. New findings are being made every year, and research is showing us exactly how these beasts looked and how they lived - this book makes superb use of that research to bring us a fascinating and illuminating book, beautifully presented and superbly illustrated.

Lift the Flap Engineering by Usborne Publishing

Fitting excellently with the current emphasis on STEM subjects, this book is published for the 2018 Year of Engineering. Engineering helps shape everything around us, from the houses and cities we live in, to the way we travel, and even the sound of the music we listen to. Children can find out more about its importance as they the flaps and investigate this colourful and well illustrated book to discover how engineering works and the many things engineers do. The diagrams are especially effective in clarifying how things work. The book will stimulate children to find out more, as it focusses on the questions children really do ask. This is such a good way to enthuse girls and boys for the marvels of engineering and supports the KS2 science curriculum very well, making the topics easy to understand.

Speed Birds by Alan Snow

Subtitled 'An unforgettable story that explains how cars work', this is a fascinating read - it reads like a story but it is packed with facts that will enthuse any transport fan. The young crow was a curious crow, and his mother warned him of the dangers he would face in the world... and of the speed attained by the peregrine falcon. Inspired, when he and his fellows find themselves in a scrapyard, they set out to build an incredible car, the Speed Bird, based on plans they find. This wonderfully illustrated story shows how the crows worked together to solve the problems and build the fastest car ever. An inspiring account of reaching out for your dreams, working together and making the most of opportunities. There's also lots of information about how cars work, especially in the wonderfully detailed diagrams, which are a joy. A superb gift book for car enthusiasts, young or old.

The Usborne Book of Night Time

There's is so much going on while we are all asleep, and children will love to explore all the different activities going on all night long. The two page introductory spread shows all the night time activity - people talking with friends, a late office worker... and who is that, sneaking around? So much fo children to explore, spot and discuss, and perhaps they know people who do these jobs. There are robots in the factory, animals in the countryside, busy drivers and many more. Readers will learn about the wonders of the natural world, including the night sky and nocturnal animals too. There are links to specially selected websites with more to discover. Share this as a bedtime read, so children snuggle down, feeling safe and warm, while others look after the world around us. Totally fascinating, revealing a new world to children. Illustrated by Laura Gowan.

Never Too Young!: 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference by Aileen Weintraub

This inspiring book shows children that they are never too young to make an impact on their world. From Picasso, who changed the world of art forever, to Malala Yousafzai, who bravely promoted girls' education, here are 50 inspiring young people. Many are well known - Some, like Anne Frank, Pele, Louis Armstrong and Joan of Arc, and Stevie Wonder, are prominent figures, and others are lesser known. Those included come from around the world, from all eras of history and have made themselves known. They come from a variety of historical periods and backgrounds, and have made an impact in politics, sports, human rights, science and more. Each has a two page spread, with succinct biography and delightful portrait by Laura Horton on the facing page. Published by Sterling, September 2018, ISBN 9781454929178.

Usborne Lift-the-Flap Periodic Table

Who would have though the periodic table could be so interesting? The format is ideal for younger children, encouraging them to learn about the 118 elements from which everything in the universe is made. And did you realise how recently some of these were discovered? And that some are so rare they are hard to study? One drawback of the format is that it doesn't lend itself to an index, so readers have to rely on the page headings to find their way around. However, the sections and clear and the format of the book does encourage browsing anyway - a serendipitous way of learning. The book explains what the periodic table is, how it works, and describes the elements, with additional information under the flaps. The book is really appealing, with lots of lively illustrations and packed with easy to assimilate nuggets of information.

Up and Away!: How Two Brothers Invented the Hot-Air Balloon by Jason Henry

A fascinating account of how the Montgolfier Brothers invented the hot-air balloon, told in story format. Joseph Montgolfier, a dreamer and an inventor who liked to learn about how everything worked. With the help of his brother, Etienne, and more than a century before the first plane flight, the Montgolfier brothers sent a flying machine into the skies. It was a machine powered by hot air - and they sent a rooster, a duck and a sheep up in the basket. An exciting account of a mementous discovery. The richly coloured illustrations form the background to every page, perfectly integrated with the account. Published by Sterling, August 2018, ISBN 9781454925620.

Scratch and Discover World Atlas by Charlotte Trounce

Encourage children to find their way around a world atlas at the same time as enjoying an exciting treasure hunt. Children use the accompanying bamboo 'pen' to scratch and discover animals, famous buildings, food, people and icons from across the globe. Every spread features a fully-illustrated continental map with dozens of icons, ten of which on each page are hidden under a scratch panel. Can your child guess (using the list provided) what lies beneath each? The clue is in the shape. Once the images have been revealed, you are left with an allealing atlas, perfect for young learners.

Egypt Magnified by David Long

Once again, Wide-Eyed Editions have brought us an imnpressive book - they really do live up to their name! Every aspect of Ancient Egypt is here, perfect to enhance KS2 learning - and to impress children with the skills and ingenuity of these ancient people. From the Nile to the pyramids, from pharaohs to slaves and scribes, from temples to houses, from libraries to writing and much more, it's all here in this fascinating search-and-find adventure. Key to the book is the 3x magnifying glass, which presses out and can then be stored back in the cover of the book. With 10 things to spot on every single spread, (plus a host of intricate details by illustrator Harry Bloom, there will always be something new revealed, making this a book that will offer hours of engrossing study. A unique and memorable way to encourage children to delve deep into a fascinating culture.

Weird but True 2019 from National Geographic

Children who love weird and wonderful facts will love this book - and parents can prepare to be bombarded with all sorts of fascinating facts... and yes, they are all true! One thing you can guarantee with National Geographic books is excellent photography - and this is no exception. From the tiny harvest mouse to the mighty whale, everything is shown in superb photos as well as relevant infographics all accompanied by additional fact boxes. Facts and stories about geography, biology, the animal kingdom, social sciences, human achievement and innovation form the main part of the book. Ranging from geographical curiosity to animal wonders, gross inventions to weird food, the Weird but True! Annual 2019 is full of fascinating facts to fill children with awe and wonder. I am really pleased to see a comprehensive index which enables children to navigate through the book, honing their research skills.

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