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Books about animals, birds and all living things, their habitat and our world
Dynamic and visually appealing, this book inspires young people to think, not only about the planet and the impact that humanity is having upon it, but also about the ways in which we treat each other. Covering a wide range of the sort of issues that young people are likely to be most concerned about, such as climate change, pollution, animal welfare, gender equality, social justice, homelessness and hunger. Each graphically striking double spread introduces a topic and the issues of concern in a lively and accessible way. Then it introduces the young activists that are making a difference around the world. Greta Thunberg is obviously there in several sections, but over 20 young change-makers from all around the globe are featured. Then there are the pages which suggest ways in which the reader can get involved right now. How they can change their own behaviour and how they can impact upon their home and school. It even has ideas for potential eco-businesses. At the end of the book there is a really comprehensive listing of where to find these featured activists as well as organisations, books, media and websites. There is also very welcome advice on maintaining your own safety and wellbeing – the “Don’t feed the trolls” page of advice for example. A comprehensive index and glossary of terms completes this no-nonsense, non-patronising call to arms. Full of useful information and fascinating life stories this will undoubtedly be regularly picked up by the young readers it is aimed at.
This book offers a fun and quirky introduction to famous artists, writers and scientists, via their pets. We learn a great deal about Sigmund Freud for example through the story of his beloved chow chow Jofi, who was present in his owner’s famous treatment rooms for seven years. Similarly, it’s much easier to identify with Isaac Newton once you know about his little dog, Diamond, or Henri Matisse as you learn about his cats Minouche, Coussi and la Puce. Some of the pets of course are interesting in their own right too – the crocodiles Dorothy Parker kept in her bath, or Charles Dickens’ talking raven Grip, who stars in Barnaby Rudge and also inspired Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven. There are full page illustrations of each pet and owner and opposite a page of lively, accessible information about the pair and their relationship. Unusual, handsomely illustrated and inspiring.
This bright, inspiring information book shows just how fascinating bugs are and will convince even the most die-hard creepy-crawly-phobe that they’re lovable. Lively double-page spreads feature a range of familiar insects including bees, worms, ants, spiders and grasshoppers and then via attractive cartoon-style illustration and integrated text tells us all sorts of facts about their bodies and lives. Some of it is vital statistics-stuff but there are some amazing facts too. Did you know that worms have up to five hearts, or that snails are deaf? Children will absorb a great deal of information and the bugs themselves are given real character by Matt Robertson in his illustrations. Fun, informative and a great introduction to non-fiction books.
Wherever we live, there are birds all around us and this beautifully illustrated book will enable readers to identify them and is also full of facts and information about the way our native birds live. It features 140 different birds, each one is illustrated in colour and alongside a paragraph of text are fact boxes with bullet point information on size, habitat, food and the bird’s song. It’s a good size to pop into a bag on a trip to the country or local park, or even to take out into the garden, but will make for many happy hours of browsing indoors too. Just the sort of book to inspire a life-long interest in birds. Congratulations too to Kate McLelland whose screen print illustrations of the birds are stunning.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2020 | March 2020 Book of the Month | The wonder of nature and in particular the growth cycle of a tiny seed are beautifully captured in Britta Teckentrup’s luminous illustrations and simple text which, more widely, celebrates finding your own way in the world whoever you are. What happens when one tiny seed takes a long time to get growing? It soon discovers that the faster growing seeds have taken all the space and light. Undaunted, and guarded first by ant and ladybird and later by more and more creatures of the woodlands, the tiny seed begins its own journey seeking out spaces that enable it to flourish and fulfil its potential. It’s a joy to dwell on the illustrations and to let message sink in.
Read this book and you will see flowers with quite different eyes. That’s its intention, as laid out in the introduction, and one it achieves quite brilliantly. Seventeen flowers are featured, most familiar to us all (dandelion, thistle, poppy, marigold), full colour, full page illustrations opposite a page of text. The text gives us size and appearance, where the plant grows, but also includes bits of history and folklore plus information on medicinal properties and how the plant has been used to heal over the centuries. Fascinating stuff, and you get a strong sense of the author’s expertise and enthusiasm. The illustrations are just as special, stylized, folk-art inspired images of the flowers with figures or birds and insects. Beautiful and mind-expanding.
The twelve poems in this book, one for each month, will inspire a year of nature watching and who knows, quite likely some poetry writing too. There’s drama and excitement in the opening poem which describes a legendary fight between warring starlings – ‘the Rorschach of the winter months’ - over Cork in the 1600s; other poems are quieter and February’s gives a beautiful close up view of frog spawn, opening up memories from Coelho’s own childhood. Many of the poems in fact reflect his own personal experiences and responses to nature, April showers, trips to the beach, walks through winter leaves, giving the poems a particular intensity and emotional impact. Kelly Louise Judd’s folk-are inspired illustrations make this as beautiful to look at as it is to read aloud. A superb collection and a lovely book to give.
This little volume is just the right size to fit into a pocket or backpack and it’s well worth young readers keeping it to hand at all times as it’s packed with advice on ways to be more green. Chapters include ‘Do You Live in a Green House?’, ‘Shopping for the Planet’ and ‘Stop Polluting the Planet’ and after describing the impact of the ways of life we all take for granted, they list things we can easily do to make a difference. These ‘over to you’ sections are practical, do-able and empowering. There’s a list of websites to visit at the end to find out more, as well as Planet Pledges to sign – one for the reader, one for the reader’s family. Accessible, informative and positive, this is a great book for anyone who cares about the future of our planet and highly recommended.
Amazing True-Life Tales; Astounding Wildlife Facts | A mix of inspiring true stories and fascinating facts and information, all presented across bright, colourful pages with striking, atmospheric illustrations, this is a terrific book for anyone who loves animals. Amongst the animal heroes whose stories we hear are Balto, a sledge dog who helped deliver live-saving medicine in the Alaska winter; Wojtek, the bear who became a favourite with Polish soldiers in World War 2; and Machli, a tiger who fought with an enormous crocodile to save her cubs. There are lots more too, animals who were never given names but whose actions demonstrate incredible intelligence and resilience. As Jess French says in her introduction, there’s always something new to learn about animals, and this book proves that time and time again.
Justin Anderson is a film maker who has been involved in high quality film production for the likes of Planet Earth II in his 18-year career of filming wildlife for the BBC. This book is born from his passion to share his fascination with the snow leopard – one of the creatures on the Red List of endangered species – the snow leopard is listed as ‘vulnerable’. This is a very simply told tale of how Anderson went looking for snow leopards and what he saw, but the strength of the book lies in the “footnotes” and the glorious illustrations by Patrick Benson. Benson is a multi-award-winning illustrator, known for the realism of his illustration – the almost photographic detail, rendered in such a simple palette with detail that makes you think you might actually be able to stroke the leopards (If you dare!). The “footnotes” are details about the leopards, in a different font on the relevant page of the book, so that the reader has good quality information to support the simple story – telling us more about the mysterious creature. For instance, I had no idea snow leopards sang in the moonlight – did you? The final spread of the book is devoted to a page of information about snow leopards, where you find more information about them and that ever important short index making the book useful and accessible for information retrieval. A useful and beautiful book.
In these challenging times for our planet, children feel a particular pressure to take action. This book offers them the information they need to understand the issues as well as ideas and advice on the steps they themselves can take to improve things. It’s practical and pragmatic, reassuring and inspiring. Written in partnership with environmental charity ClientEarth it’s particularly good on how mass democratic campaigns like petitions can really make a difference, stressing to young readers that individual voices all count. It’s also packed with ideas for things they can easily do now, whether that’s recycling more or growing your own vegetables. The information is clearly laid out and very easy to digest. As Brian Eno explains in his introduction, becoming a Guardian of the Planet needn’t be as daunting as it sounds, especially if we all work together.
September 2019 Non-Fiction Book of the Month | Matt Sewell is a passionate bird spotter as well as gifted artist and his enthusiasm shines through in this sumptuous book. He’s selected favourite birds from around the world, the exotic as well as the everyday, and each one featured is illustrated in his beautiful and expressive watercolour. The passages of text that accompany the illustrations include fascinating facts as well as information on the bird’s appearance and habitat, and some of the facts are really quirky – how the Australian Southern drongo came to provide the slang term for an idiot for example. This is a book to delight, intrigue and inspire as well as inform