Category Archives: Book review

New reviews: Illustrated non-fiction roundup!

Today on the blog I’m sharing some fantastic non-fiction titles to educate and entertain. From rainforest to engineering to the magic of sleep and Ancient Egypt, there’s something for everyone!!

Zoom Rainforest Adventure by Susan Hayes and Susanna Rumiz is a gorgeous new non-fiction board book adventure series that will inspire budding young adventurers! Bright colours and lively illustration bring to life the fact-filled text and make this an ideal way to engage youngsters in early reading. They’ll find out about the animals and birds that inhabit the rainforest and discover creep-crawlies galore. With die-cuts and pop-ups throughout, Zoom will inspire even the youngest of explorers! Published by What on Earth Books, with titles including Ocean Adventure, Space Adventure also available and Building Site Adventure and Farm Adventure coming this November.

Sticking with the theme of forests, enter a world of wonder on a woodland walk with Look What I Found in the Woods by Moira Butterfield and Jesus Verona. Young readers are invited to join in the fun with this lovely picture book, and see what they can spot in the woods too. Full of detailed illustrations showing just how much there is to see, with an engaging, rhyming narrative. There’s also nature notes that add extra guidance and I’m sure Look What I Found in the Woods will encourage families to put their wellies on and get hunting in the woods! Published by Nosy Crow in collaboration with the National Trust.

Enter a world of plants and learn all about nature from master forager and gardener, Alys Fowler in Grow, Forage and Make illustrated by Heidi Griffiths. A detailed guide with 30 activities to inspire family time in the garden and teach children how to forage and what to do with their wonderful finds. They’ll learn how to make wildflower seed paper and create art from leaf pounding, or make a parsnip pea-shooter and see the Wood Wide Web! There is so much to discover in nature and this lovely book with equally lovely illustrations will children and their families discover it in spades (!). Published by Bloomsbury in collaboration with Kew Gardens for children aged 9+.

For something more historical in flavour, there’s The Mystery of the Golden Pyramid by Adela Norean and Aaron Cushley. A beautifully produced lift-the-flap adventure, readers join Sophie as she sets out to save a King and solve the mystery, with the help of a talking dog. With action, excitement and humour throughout, this fantastical adventure will engage young readers AND fill their minds with knowledge of Ancient Egypt! Published by Little Tiger.

The Magic of Sleep – A Fascinating Guide to the World of Slumber by Vicky Woodgate is exactly that – a totally fascinating insight in to sleep, uncovering all the things you’ve ever wondered about – and much more you haven’t! From the scientific to the sensational, from myths to the beds we sleep on, animals to plants and of course, humans, it covers everything. With helpful chapters headings, informative illustrations and a delightful cat who accompanies each section, you will fall into the world of sleep with ease with this book! My niece picked this book up and proceeded to read it cover to cover – she particularly liked the dream journal and practical tips for sleep at the back of the book. Published by Dorling Kindersley

Cool Engineering by Jenny Jacoby and Jem Venn is a new title in the ‘Cool’ series that has eleven other titles covering every subject from architecture to maths to mythology. Cool Engineering follows the same appealing, simple and attractive graphic style with just the right amount of interest to engage readers aged 8 and above. It’s full of incredible information about the world of engineering, including biographies of key figures in engineering history such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and more recent, Elon Musk. From tools to transport, computers to biomedical inventions, there’s a whole world of fascinating facts to discover! Educational and engaging this is great book for reluctant readers and those who like to dip in and out of reading. Published by Pavilion.

Standing on Her Shoulders A Celebration of Women by Monica Clark-Robinson illustrated by Laura Freeman is a celebration of the strong women who influence us – from our mothers, sisters, aunts and grandmothers to the women who fought for equality and acceptance. Beautifully drawn, it reminds us of all the inspirational women who have gone before us – those we know and love personally, and those figures from history who deserve our recognition. It reminds us not to take our freedoms for granted and strive to protect them – and invites us to think about who might stand on our shoulders one day. Standing on Her Shoulders would make a lovely gift for the young girls in your life, one to be shared with all the family. Published by Scholastic.

With thanks to all the publishers for sending me these books to review.

Picture Book Review: The Greatest Show Penguin by Lucy Freegard

The Greatest Show Penguin by Lucy Freegard

Poppy’s a penguin who’s always performed. But now Poppy wants to change her life – no more juggling, unicycling or breathing fire. She wants to make others happy, but also be happy herself. So she’s going to run the show. Can she become the greatest show penguin?

The answer is yes! Not to spoil the show, but this tale of Poppy and her desire to be true to herself is just delightful! She has to be brave and admit to her family – all of whom are performers in the circus with her – that she doesn’t want to be on stage anymore.

Her Mum suggests a holiday to take a break, but while they are away, Poppy finds she misses the circus. Fortunately, there is a lot to do to make a circus show happen, and Poppy is able to find lots of new skills and a way to still be part of the show.

A warm-hearted story, with gorgeous watercolour illustrations, The Greatest Show Penguin will light up bedtime for little ones – and remind them being brave is not as scary as you think!

With thanks to Pavilion Books for sending me this book to review. Find out more at www.lucyfreegard.com.

Picture Book Review: Can you Keep a Secret? by Melissa Castrillon

Can you Keep a Secret? by Melissa Castrillon

If you met a dragon, could you keep it a secret? One day in the forest, Winnie discovers the last dragon in the whole world. His fabulous friends, the gryphon, the winged lion and the tree-man are the last of their kind, too. They’ll be in danger if a grown-up discovers them. But can Winnie really keep them secret?

A fantastical story of wondrous creatures and a little girl with an important secret to keep. Winnie sees pictures of the dragon, gryphon, winged lion and tree-man and wonders whether they could still be alive. But her parents reassure her they can’t be as they were defeated in battle.

Winnie prepares herself just in case, practising her sword fighting in the garden, showing herself to be a brave heroine. One day Winnie is swept away by a magical wind and finds herself on the back of a dragon! Winnie’s adventure that follows is a gentle reminder of what being endangered really means – and how it’s humans that are often the cause of this.

Stunningly illustrated with vibrant colours and a mythical feel, Can you Keep a Secret? will spark the imaginations of young readers everywhere.

With thanks to Alison Green Books at Scholastic for sending me this book to review. Find out more at https://www.melissacastrillon.co.uk/

Picture Book Review: The Boys by Lauren Ace illustrated by Jenny Lovlie

The Boys by Lauren Ace

The boys had been friends for as long as they could remember, and a little while before that. They were like brothers. Follow the adventures of four boys as they grow up, forming bonds of friendship to last a lifetime – even if they are occasionally put to the test...

The Boys portrays the essence of boyhood, friendship and growing up through a simple narrative, accompanied by heartfelt illustrations. Many of the changes we all face in our friendships as time passes are captured here – from finding new love, making different friends, competing with each other to feeling sad and alone and realising just how important our friends are.

Reading this as the mother of two boys made me smile – you can almost hear the shared laughter of the boys as they play and feel the changes as they happen. This story reminds us that real friends are there to love and be loved, and will always be there no matter what. And it shows boys in particular that it’s good to share your feelings and ok to cry. Endearing on every page, The Boys would make a great gift for inspiring the young boys in your life.

With thanks to Little Tiger for sending me this book to review.

Picture Book Review: Sometimes by Stephanie Stansbie illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Sometimes by Stephanie Stansbie illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Your body’s full of feelings: like the tide, they ebb and flow. Sometimes they lift you high and sometimes they bring you low.

An absolutely joyous picture book, gently explaining the many and varied emotions we might feel in just one day. Shown through the eyes of a brother and sister as they play outside, the rhyming narrative captures each moment and how we might respond in a given situation. The joy of leaping over waves, the wonder of flying a kite in the wind – and the fear we might feel or frustration when the kite gets stuck in a tree. Each theme is cleverly matched with the colour and tone of the illustrations.

At the back of the book is a descriptor for some of the more tricky emotions we feel, and a suggestion of what you can do to make yourself feel better. Sometimes would be a great way to explore emotions with young children, as a family or a class. But it’s also a lovely, gentle story to enjoy, reminding us that the strongest and most important emotion of all, is love.

With thanks to Little Tiger for sending me this book to review.