National Non-Fiction November – a celebration of books!

nnfnIn celebration of National Non Fiction November, I’m sharing some fantastic non-fiction titles on the blog today that demonstrate brilliantly why children’s non-fiction is so popular and deserves to be celebrated! From super series to one off wonders, children and adults alike will be enthralled by them all.

 

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Be Your Best Self – Life Skills for Unstoppable Kids by Danielle Brown and Nathan Kai celebrates being confident in your own skin and provides lots of tips and techniques on how to be successful, achieve your dreams and generally be brilliant! Written by double Paralympic gold medallist Danielle Brown, and the youngest self-development published author, Nathan Kai who is also a member of MENSA, you know the advice is going to be good. There are chapters devoted to each area that impact development for example – goal setting, self-confidence and role models. It also looks at bullying, kindness and how to keep going when the going gets tough – all very real issues for children and young people today. Straightforward advice is brought to life with colourful illustrations throughout and both authors share their own experiences to enable readers to really relate to it. This well-written and beautifully presented book would make a great gift for youngsters to encourage and motivate them to be the best they can be!

“To Be Your Best Self means loving who you are, feeling confident in your own skin and achieving the things you want to do.”

Find out more at www.buttonbooks.co.uk

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A Million Dots by Sven Volker is a quirky picture book that does exactly what the title says – brings a million dots to life! A clever concept where doubling the numbers from one to one million happens over the 40 pages of the book, with a pullout at the back to accommodate all the dots! Recognisable objects illustrate numbers to begin with– such as trees, peas, raindrops and even freckles – until there are too many to fit on the page. As ther number increases the dots get smaller and smaller. A remarkable visualisation of numbers, A Millions Dots makes a great book to share and I can imagine some young readers would want to count them all too!

Find out more www.cicadabooks.co.uk

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Odd Science: Brilliant Bodies by James Olstein is the fourth instalment in this fantastic series which so far has covered inventions, the animal kingdom and space. Full of fascinating facts accompanied by the now trademark gorgeous design and illustration, readers can explore the human body and find out weird and wacky truths about the way our bodies work.  Did you know that every 7-10 years, a human skeleton renews the cells inside itself completely?! Or that the human nose can sniff out the difference between at least a trillion different odours?! With so many interesting things to discover, Brilliant Bodies is a wonderful addition to this series which presents science in a fun and easy to digest format. Not only do these books look really nice on the bookshelf (I’m a sucker for great design!) but they’re educational and entertaining too!

Find out more at www.pavilionbooks.com

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Encyclopedia of Grannies by Éric Veillé is a delightful book full of word play and humour all about grandmas. Lively illustrations shine a light on the wonderful world of grannies and the things they get up to; this is a book for the family to enjoy.  Have you ever wondered why grannies tell us to speak up? Or why they have creases on their faces? How old are they really?! I thoroughly enjoyed this encyclopedia which is full of wit and wisdom and may have some unexpected answers to these questions! Encyclopedia of Grannies would make a brilliant gift to give grandma – so she can share it with her grandchildren!

Find out more at www.geckopress.com

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Darwin’s Voyage of Discovery by Jake Williams is a beautiful book celebrating one of the most remarkable journeys in history.  Enter the world of Charles Darwin and travel on his ship, The Beagle, as you find out all about what inspired our knowledge of the natural world. Overflowing with insight, this book features the story of the voyage but also shares fascinating facts about wildlife and nature too. There’s even a detailed look at the ship itself and the equipment Charles took, as well as hearing about the Captain and the crew.  Beautifully illustrated with wonderful presentation this book is a must for children who are interested in history, science and nature and would make a perfect gift.

Find out more at www.pavilionbooks.com

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So you think you’ve got it bad? A Kid’s Life in Ancient Rome by Chae Strathie and Marisa Morea brings life in Ancient Rome leaping off the page is the third book in this series developed in consultation with experts from The British Museum. Lively illustrations accompany the informative narrative, shedding light on just how children lived in Roman times and featuring all manner of things from what they wore, to what they ate and what school was like. Gladiators even make an appearance!  Entertaining sound bites and engaging design will keep young readers enthralled as they delve into the past. This is a great addition to any bookshelf and in particular for those studying Ancient Rome, this book makes a great starting point.

Find out more at www.nosycrow.com

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Atlas of Amazing Birds by Matt Sewell is a glorious book full to the brim with the world’s most amazing birds. The author and illustrator is a well-respected wildlife artist and writer who has brought together this wonderful selection and beautifully crafted all the illustrations to depict birds in all their glory! Alongside witty and informative descriptions, you can read all about just how unique birds are and how each has its own quirky behaviour, ‘song’ and habits.  You will also discover birds you’ve never heard of (Painted Bunting, Resplendent quetzal, Corncrake were certainly new to me!). There are spreads on each continent visited explaining which birds come from which area. All in all it’s a truly wonderful atlas and if you’re not a bird lover, you will be after reading this. As the author says, ‘remember to always look up and around as you never what you are going to see’!

Find out more at www.pavilionbooks.com

With thanks to Pavilion Press, Cicada Books, Gecko Press, Nosy Crow and Button Books for sending me these books to review. 

 

Book of the Month: Adventures on Earth by Simon Tyler

book of the monthAdventures on Earth by Simon Tyler published by Pavilion is a stunning book about the world’s most extreme environments with a powerful message of conservation.  In keeping with Simon Tyler’s previous titles (Bugs and Adventures in Space – both of which I loved) expect incredible, bright and colourful illustration accompanying amazing information that will keep you totally absorbed.  Published this Autumn, I’m very pleased to make it Book of the Month especially as it’s National Non-Fiction November!

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Adventures on Earth invites you to travel throughout history alongside the world’s bravest explorers, across deserts and oceans, over mountains and through polar regions. Learn about the world’s most wild terrain, as well as the animals that live there and the people who have explored them. A glossary and useful explanations and maps give a depth to the text, bringing each part of the world in focus to life. Readers will also find out how each of these regions is under threat and what can be done to conserve them.

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A true celebration of the wonder of the world, coupled with the achievements of those who have dared to explore, anyone reading this book will want to ensure we do everything we can to protect our planet.  This is a book to be enjoyed again and again by all the family.

Find out more at www.simontyler.co.uk  and  www.pavilionbooks.com

With thanks to Pavilion for sending me this gorgeous book to read and review.

 

New reviews: Fantastic Non-Fiction!

It’s National Non-Fiction November and a great time to share the amazing non-fiction books that bring the world we live in to life! Perfect for readers young and old to share, learn about all manner of brilliant subjects and just enjoy fantastic books.

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The National Trust Children’s Almanac 2019  by Anna Wilson illustrated by Elly Jahnz  is a beautifully written and illustrated month-by-month journey through the seasons.  Featuring everything from animal behaviour guides to seasonal recipes to activity ideas, this is a really delightful book to inspire even the most reluctant of young explorers to step outside. The author has taken great trouble to bring lots of interesting information together and show ways of being creative.  Accompanied by bright and colourful artwork, this is also a wonderful debut book for illustrator Elly Jahnz.

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I absolutely loved the activities, helpful top tips and that readers can make notes if they want to at the end of the book.  Each month includes special days to note at the start and highlights anniversaries of historical events such as the first moon landing or the Great Fire of London. The Children’s Alamanac would make a perfect gift and wonderful book to share, encouraging family outings and ways to discover new things about the world around us. Published as part of Nosy Crow’s ongoing partnership with The National Trust,  this is definitely one to add to the Christmas list!

Find out more at www.nosycrow.com and www.nationaltrust.org.uk

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Sleep by Kate Prendergastpublished by Old Barn Books, is a beautiful picture book looking at the sleeping habits of animals through stunning illustrations and simple facts.  I can’t imagine anyone seeing the book’s front cover and not wanting to pick it up! With a gentle narrative, each page describes how the animals sleep, some with extra footnotes to add different facts. The illustrations are quite amazing bringing to life the sleeping inhabitants of the book and showing their various habitats.

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Young readers will love identifying the different animals and habitats. The last spread introduces the idea of dreaming and in the final pages there are additional fascinating facts with web links to connect to online information should you wish to find out more.

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This is a really lovely book to introduce the animal kingdom to young readers and perhaps great to read at bedtime, encouraging even the most restless of little ones that everyone goes to sleep!

Find out more at www.kateprendergast.co.uk

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Secret Science The Amazing World Beyond Your Eyes by Dara O’Briain illustrated by Dan Bramall explores the incredible science behind everyday life with Dara O’Briain’s trademark humour, bringing to life even the most complicated scientific facts from molecules to neurotransmitters.

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If you’ve ever enjoyed Dara O’Briain’s stand up shows, then you’ll know the hilarious observations he makes and his brilliant use of emphasis. This translates brilliantly for kids into a very funny and totally inspired book.  Secret Science will have you laughing out loud as you discover all manner of weird and wonderful facts about things such as KILLER RAYS FROM SPACE (the Sun) to the ‘sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia’ (BRAIN FREEZE).

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Lively illustrations and larger than life graphics capture both the science and the humour perfectly showing us that it really is everywhere and ensuring readers will be utterly fascinated – as well as hugely entertained.  Published by Scholastic, Secret Science is great for all the family and a wonderful initiation in all things science!

Find out more at www.scholastic.co.uk

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Absolutely Everything A History of East, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and things too numerous to mention by Christopher Lloyd is a beautifully presented book taking readers aged 9 and up on a journey through everything from the beginning of time to the present day.  Each chapter covers a specific time period  but connects the various eras within that time frame rather than separating them.  I enjoyed the inviting narrative style which enables you to see how history, science and nature connect. This is definitely a book for confident readers but one that could be shared and enjoyed by the whole family.  It has an index and a glossary so you can navigate more easily. Colourful and bold illustrations, alongside images of historical artefacts and locations bring many of the fascinating facts to life. It is a really informative book, that will challenge young historians to think differently.

The publication of Absolutely Everything is part of a wider campaign to connect knowledge and raise awareness of the value of a more cross-curricular approach to teaching and learning.  Having invited Christopher Lloyd to perform his What on Earth workshops in schools I have worked in, his passion for this is evident and I loved how he brought history, science, technology, literature and sport to life in just one hour!  As did the children!  Christopher’s belief is that “only by connecting knowledge back together again can children learn to think out of the box, develop critical thinking skills and become their own self-learning systems.”

Find out more at www.whatonearthbooks.com

With thanks to Old Barn Books, Nosy Crow, Scholastic and What on Earth Books for sending me this titles to review!

New review: The Secret Diaries series by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Jamie Littler

Blending fiction and non fiction can create a perfect harmony, bringing stories AND facts to life so children can enjoy learning about the world around them. This is exactly what happens in the fantastic series written by Philip Ardagh, illustrated by Jamie Littler and published by Nosy Crow in partnership with The National Trust. The Secret Diaries series introduce wonderful fictional characters who live and work in a particular time in history and share their experiences with the reader through diary entries.

The Secret Diary of John Drawbridge Medieval Knight in Training and The Secret Diary of Jane Pinny Victorian House Maid describe what daily life was like for a working young person, with each central character brilliantly brought to life. Younger readers might need a little guidance with the authentic accents but they’ll soon get the hang of it! All the facts and trivia are supported by footnotes that explain various terms and phrases along the way and give a wonderful insight to the time period in question.  There is a fictional narrative running through each book with a mystery to solve or a thrilling adventure to be had, ensuring the reader is fully engaged, all the while learning through the story.  The wider cast of characters featured give an opportunity to share what different roles people had and how the class system worked.

In Medieval Knight in Training we learn who the kennel boy was (poor chap!), how people ate, all about falconry and what a Fletcher did!  In Victorian House Maid in Training we discover how a chimney was cleaned, what ‘pinny’ is short for, the huge number of people who worked in a Victorian mansion and just how hard a maid had to work! All the while John Drawbridge survives a plan to overthrow the castle and solves the mystery of the attack; and Jane Pinny uses her detective skills to find out who stole a beautiful necklace.  Each book is brilliantly illustrated by Jamie Littler with drawings that bring to life the humour and adventure as well as the historical trivia.

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All in all The Secret Diaries series is ideal for young readers wanting to learn more about history and enjoy a great fun story.

With thanks to Nosy Crow for sending me these books to review. 

Fabulous Non-Fiction!

It’s National Non-Fiction November so the perfect time to share some of the wonderful non-fiction books published recently.  I often tell children that there are so many amazing books written for them that they are spoilt for choice! And they really are; especially when it comes to beautifully produced non-fiction books like those featured on the blog today. With Christmas not too far away these books would make wonderful gifts!  They also demonstrate the brilliance of text and illustration working together to bring the world to life for young readers.

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The Picture Atlas An Incredible Journey by Simon Holland, illustrated by Jill Calder

This is an absolutely wonderful atlas exploring the world continent by continent. Stunning, detailed illustrations give life to the wealth of facts and information to be found on every page.

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Delving into each continent, the history of the people, artefacts, the landforms, the animals inhabiting the land and even the food are described through the perfect combination of words and pictures.

 

 

Every time you read it you discover something new and there’s a helpful glossary at the end of the book. This is a wonderful book to encourage children’s natural curiosity and a fantastic way to support learning about the world.

Find out more about the illustrator at www.jillcalder.com

The Picture Atlas is published by Bloomsbury

 

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How to Think Like a Coder without even trying!

by Jim Christian illustrated by Paul Boston

Have you ever wondered how on earth computer programmes actually work? Well according to this book, you already know! With straightforward explanations of what coding is, a fascinating look at early computers and of course, the most amazing computer of all, the human brain, the book explores all aspects of coding and gives the reader the chance to try their hand at creating code.

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For independent young readers, everyday situations are turned into opportunities to code – and of course, adults can join in too.  You don’t even need a computer!

 

 

It’s packed full of information and lively illustrations featuring fun robot characters who enliven the text throughout.  How to Think like a Coder takes what can be a rather intimidating topic and makes it more accessible and something all the family can share!

Find out more at www.jimchristian.net and www.paulboston.net

Published by Pavilion Books.

 

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Her Right Foot by Dave Eggars, illustrated by Shawn Harris

I will admit to having a big soft spot for New York having spent my honeymoon there.  But even as a child, I was always fascinated by Statue of Liberty (anyone remember she came to life in Ghostbusters 2!) so this book was an ideal opportunity to re-acquaint myself with the story behind it.

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Her Right Foot is absolutely fascinating, full of things I didn’t know about how the Statue was built to how people feel about it.  A non-fiction picture book, it’s totally accessible and a wonderful book to read aloud.

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The fantastic, vibrant illustrations capture the narrative brilliantly and history comes to life before your eyes – an impressive debut for illustrator Shawn Harris. And even more incredible is the message ‘found’ in the small trait of the Statue’s right foot that encapsulates the freedom the Statue of Liberty represents.

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A very timely publication, this book will be enjoyed not just for an entertaining take on history; but also for the deeper meaning of tolerance and acceptance behind it.

Find out more about the illustrator at www.shawnharris.info

Published by Abrams & Chronicle Books

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

 

 

Book of the Month: BUGS by Simon Tyler

book of the monthSimon Tyler is an author illustrator and graphic designer with a passion for presenting facts and information in accessible and aesthetically pleasing ways.  He has absolutely succeeded in doing that with Book of the Month, Bugs, which he wrote and illustrated in association with the Buglife conservation charity. Published by Pavilion Books, Bugs is simply one of the most gorgeous books I’ve seen this year so a very suitable choice for Book of the Month, in celebration of National Non Fiction November!

 

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BUGS written and illustrated Simon Tyler

Enter the fascinating world of bugs with this book which will introduce you to some of the strangest, scariest, biggest and smallest insects around.  Discover the bug with a 30cm tongue, get to know the insect that east dung for dinner, and meet the ant that can paralyse with a single sting. 

What strikes you instantly about this glorious book are the stunning illustrations and incredible use of colour.  Each image is beautifully detailed allowing you to get up close to some amazing life forms.

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Bursting with fascinating facts there are over 50 bugs featured, with all types of information about the wonderful world of insects; their habits, senses, defences, what they eat and where they live.

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The presentation and production quality is really special, making this a wonderful book to give as a gift to any insect enthusiast – or indeed anyone curious about the world around them.

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There’s a helpful glossary to decipher the scientific terms used and the first few pages give a brilliant introduction to insects in general. With an attractive font and accessible layout, Bugs is a lovely book for all the family to share and even if you’re not fond of creepy crawlies, I think this book could convert you!

Find out more at www.simontyler.co.uk 

With thanks to Pavilion Books for sending me this book to review.

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Non-fiction: why is it so important for children’s reading?

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You may have noticed that November has been National Non Fiction Month. With so many days and occasions to celebrate reading, the focus is often on fiction.  This of course, is wonderful and absolutely as it should be. But it’s also wonderful and as it should be that we celebrate the plethora of amazing non-fiction books out there for children.  And that’s just what the Federation of Children’s Book Groups does through National Non Fiction month.

So why is non- fiction so important for children’s reading?  Well, one might say, it teaches them about the world and helps their education perhaps supporting whatever current topic they’re working on. And of course this is true; knowledge is empowering at any age. But it’s more than that. Because for some children, reading stories just isn’t something they want to do or perhaps it’s something that they can’t do.  So non-fiction opens a door to reading ensuring they too can experience the wonder of words.

Non-fiction books help children unlock the world around them, but also enable them to participate in reading, tapping into their varied interests and engaging them in a way that stories sometimes can’t.  If a child has a learning need, they can struggle with understanding the often inferred narratives in a story – with non-fiction they don’t have to worry about this, they can just read the facts off the page!  Would you believe that many children I have worked with say they don’t want to read because they don’t like stories? Of course I explain to them that this is simply not true, they haven’t found the right book yet.  But if they are adamant and don’t want to read a ‘story-book’, I will establish what their interests are and recommend a wonderful non-fiction book as a starting point that fits the bill; whatever the topic there’s bound to be something they will enjoy.  As it’s not a ‘story’ and it fits in with their interests, they start to read.  And whilst they read they are still benefiting from language, vocabulary and expression through the information presented in front of them.  This is amazing sight to see, when you’ve had a student roll their eyes on being asked to read – and a little while later they’re busy enjoying a book!

There are some simply gorgeous and amazing non-fiction books produced today for all ages with beautiful illustrations bringing the information to life. The FCBG have put together an amazing list of 100 children’s non-fiction books; plenty of ideas to choose from!

And there’s always what are viewed as the more ‘commercial’ non-fiction books; the Guinness Book of Records, Lego, Minecraft……a bone of contention for some; ‘It’s not reading’.  Well actually, yes it is. It’s a start. And for those young people who are so switched off from reading they’d rather stare at the wall, it’s the perfect combination of words, pictures and fantastic facts.  Without even realising it they become engrossed in a book, through something that interests them.  It’s a step on the road to reading – it’s fun and above all we want children and young people to associate their reading experiences with fun.  Once they find the joy of books, they are far more likely to develop a reading habit. Sadly not all have had a positive start to their reading journeys, not all have homes with books in and many have a complete lack of input as they get older.  So if we can find something that hooks them, non-fiction or fiction, little by little they will discover reading for pleasure.