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. 

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.

Sign in