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Following the success of her debut book How to be Extraordinary, which focused on inspiring children to be the very best that they can be, this important companion title shows the impact of people working together and what results they can thereby achieve. Once again this demonstrates that the author has a real gift for narrative nonfiction making these true stories really come to life with the selection of salient facts and lucid explanations setting the scene and explaining the issues so very clearly. The fifteen stories range from the origins of democracy in Ancient Greece and the mystery of just how the skilled workers of Ancient Egypt built The Great Pyramid to famous and not so famous campaigns for change. So alongside Greenpeace and Save the Whale we have the lesser known Tree Planters of Pipilantre and as well as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, we have the Singing Revolution in Estonia and as well as the Anti- Slavery Campaign we have the 1965 Freedom Ride campaigning for justice for indigenous people in Australia. There is also an obvious care taken to ensure the examples are as international as possible so the campaign for voting equality for women is not solely focused on the UK. The lively layout and illustrations make this an irresistible text for library browsers with appeal across many ages and the quality of the writing makes it one that would read aloud very well. Highly recommended.
Full of clearly presented facts and figures, plus useful advice on ways they can make a difference, this is an excellent introduction to the climate crisis for young readers. The language is simple and backed up throughout by illustrations making complex issues easy to understand and digest. Broken into five different chapters, the book explains the basics – the greenhouse effect and the danger from burning fossil fuels; introduces the IPCC and spells out why we are sure there is a crisis; talks about what we need to do, and why we’re not doing it faster; and finishes by listing things individuals can do now to make a difference, no matter their age. The conclusion reassures readers that having read the book, they will have the tools to imagine the future they want as well as ideas about how to get it. As always in Usborne’s reliable information books, it directs readers to websites where they can find out more via the special Quicklinks (usborne.com/Quicklinks). A stimulating, informative, expertly targeted, and positive guide to the major issue of our time. This would be good to read in conjunction with Josh Lacey’s new Hope Jones series which looks at climate change and what to do about it through the eyes of a fictional character.
A Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body | This is an information text that will be read with great pleasure and is actually as unputdownable as a novel. It is very apparent that the multimillion-copy selling author and medical doctor has never grown out of his gleeful fascination with the human machine and has a real knack for presenting complex facts both clearly and concisely while making the reader laugh out loud. Similarly, the illustrations by Henry Parker combine accurate explanatory diagrams and zany amusing cartoons, often on the same page. Much of the humour is, of course, derived from the more disgusting aspects of the internal and external body and to making fun of the complicated language and terminology doctors and scientists use, but nonetheless using and explaining all those terms. Indeed the book concludes with a brilliantly educative glossary (and even the jokes are indexed!) A running gag is Clive and the ‘naming committee’ responsible for naming body parts, as is the continued references to the author’s dog Pippin, but always in a way which enhances an explanation or a description and develops understanding. Chapters cover all the organs and systems of the body as well as reproduction, life and death and germs (including COVID-19) and include Kay’s Kwestions (another running gag about needing a replacement Q on his keyboard) and True or Poo sections which answer the sort of questions inquisitive children will be dying to ask and expose the myths, misinformation and old wives tales that you might have heard. He does not shrink from difficult topics or giving unpopular advice – junk food, smoking and drinking really are bad for you and washing your hands properly is important. As genuinely useful as any textbook or revision guide, I would suggest multiple copies will be needed to satisfy demand in any school library.
How many adventures will be started by this quirky activity book? With all of us currently spending more time in our homes than we ever expected, it’s perfect for now, full not only of interesting facts about our houses and furniture (from information on the first bed to Le Corbusier’s ideas), but also with activity ideas inspired by the place where we live. These range from making architectural plans to designing a chair (with a nod to Bauhaus), to creating a board game à la Cluedo. Attractively designed, fun and fact-filled, this will expand the walls of your home and make it a place of quiet adventure for children – perfect.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month November 2020 | Nature is full of record-breaking adventures which are brought to life in the detailed and dramatic illustrations that fill every inch of the large scale book. Global in its reach, it is a gold mine of information as it takes readers on a world tour of astonishing achievements. There’s the fastest land animal – the cheetah from Botswana, the hottest place on Earth – Ethiopia, The Longest-erupting Volcano – Italy and many more. Across thirty gloriously bold spreads readers will discover wonderful and surprising facts about all kinds of aspects of the planet.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2020 | Starting with a timeline that stretches from the ‘Big Bang’ to ‘The Modern Age (1940- the present day)’ this is a largely pictorial history covering physical and social developments in big, bold outlines which convey the main messages which are then fleshed out in much greater depth through detailed, fact-filled captions. The topics covered in each of the double-page spreads include ‘Our Home in Space’, ‘The Dinosaur Age’ , ‘Cities, Civilizations and Empires’ and ‘Technology’. The illustrations that convey them determinedly simple which gives the book a welcome, distinctively different look. Find out more about Anna and another of her books, The Mermaid Atlas, in this Q&A.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month October 2020 | Have you ever wondered how a forest gets started? With huge trees growing up close and dense undergrowth covering the ground, their scale is so mighty that it is hard to think that they could ever have been small. Are they man made? Did an enormous giant or a massive business enterprise put them there? In a gentle and elegant story matched by simple, evocative illustrations Who Makes a Forest? helps children explore the multi-faceted ecosystem that sustains the many forests that cover so much of the earth’s surface. From the soil, made from the decay left by tiny clinging plants such as lichen and the insects that feed on them, through the first flowers that grow in that soil and the butterflies and bees and birds that feed off them to the massive trees and shrubs that we see today all stages of forest growth are covered. The book ends with 5 pages of useful facts about forests.
Nothing is higher profile or more topical currently than concern for the planet, making this subject an excellent choice for the next topic to get the highly successful Kate Pankhurst treatment. Continuing her quest to pay tribute to the often-overlooked female pioneers in any field of human endeavour with her mission to provide accessible and engaging non- fiction, Fantastically Great Women Who Saved the Planet does all that and more. Once again, I was struck by the fascinating and diverse choices of the featured women and girls. Some are relatively well-known: such as Anita Roddick who founded the Body Shop and Jane Goodall and her pioneering research and protection work with chimpanzees. But I had never heard of Edith Farkas who discovered the ozone hole in the Antarctic or Mária Telkes and her pioneering work on solar power. Even more inspiring is the evidence that everyone, however humble, can make a difference. Such as Isatou Geesay in the Gambia and her fight against plastic pollution or the Chipko movement in India, village women literally hugging trees to prevent the deforestation of their land and the floods and landslides which would follow. Each double-page spread has accessible paragraphs of text and lively cartoon illustrations and speech bubbles to tell the story concisely and clearly. This visual style is very engaging to young readers and has great shelf appeal. A useful glossary of terms and a page of inspiring calls to action complete the book. Another triumph of information presentation. Highly recommended.
December 2020 YA Book of the Month | Imparting wisdom from across two decades, Philip Pullman’s Dæmon Voices shares a generous banquet of thought-provoking insights into the art of story-telling and Pullman’s personal processes and passions. As the book’s editor, Simon Mason, writes in his introduction, Pullman is “interested in, above all, human nature, how we live and love and fight and betray and console one another. How we explain ourselves to ourselves,” and this all-encompassing ethos is reflected here, with essays covering everything from the responsibilities of the storyteller, how stories work, and authors’ intentions, to William Blake, Oliver Twist, and writing fantasy realistically. The tone is lively, ablaze with clear-sighted wit, no matter how complex the subject, with many pieces having been delivered at conferences. One of my personal favourites is “Let’s Write it in Red” which begins with an anecdote about a train journey during which the author witnessed children demonstrating the “two great principles of storytelling”. The first principle is that there are rules - among them stories must begin and have unity, and storytellers mustn’t be afraid of the obvious. Stories must have a destination too, and storytellers “must design the path so that it leads to the destination most surely, and with the maximum effect.” The second principle relates to form: “if the story is a path, then to follow it you have to ignore quite ruthlessly all the things that tempt you away from it. Your business as a storyteller is with the path, not the wood.” To these, Pullman adds a third - knowledge. Storytellers should “become more interested in your subject-matter than in the way you appear to others to be dealing with it.” With each of the 32 essays embodying these astute principles, Dæmon Voices is a trove of enlightenment, and entertaining to boot. Recommended for 16+ readers.
What We Know & What We Don't | If ever there was a book to inspire curiosity and the joy of learning, it is this sparkling new edition of that old stalwart, the Encyclopedia Britannica. Thoroughly updated for the 21st century and making a welcome return to print, it has been edited by Christopher Lloyd of What On Earth Wallbooks fame and his delight in discovery and knowledge infuses every one of its 400+ pages. It is divided into eight sections covering life on earth, from the formation of the universe to the development of man through to peeks into our future, and each of these sections includes hundreds of different topics, the information carefully and thoughtfully presented through clear text panels supported by colour images, photos and diagrams. All of the information comes from named experts, who are not above confessing when they’re not sure of something or acknowledging ‘known unknowns’, and in another clever touch, there are Q&A features with some of these at the end of each section, where they explain how their passion for their subjects began. The book is fabulous to look at and, whether you are dipping in to follow a particular thread or reading through it from beginning to end, it will answer thousands of questions while sparking thousands more, just as the very best sources of information always do. Highly recommended.
This large-format stunning book tells the history of our world. It is a beautiful celebration and visual introduction to our planet and society told through the history of our greatest inventions and the technology that has changed the world. In his signature playful style, Peter Goes illustrates the most fascinating technologies, from the first tools to the most specialized IT, from medical breakthroughs to the creation of YouTube. He includes remarkable scientists and innovators and highlights lesser-known stories. A compelling history of technology from the Stone Age to the present day, from America to the Southern hemisphere and beyond. The illustrations are just stunning and beautifully complemented by lots of fascinating facts.
This enchanting reinvention of a Natural History of Fairies written by botanist Professor Elsie Arbour in the 1920s glows with timeless charm and the magic of nature. What’s more, author Emily Hawkins’s message about protecting fairies’ natural habitats has important real-world resonance, such as this: “human actions are putting fairies’ habitats at risk. When forests and woodland are cut down to make space for farmland…then fairies’ homes are destroyed.” Fairy enthusiasts will delight in the detail of the softly-radiant illustrations that present fairy anatomy and life cycles in the manner of natural history books, replete with labels and descriptions. Throughout, the book is suffused with a thrilling feeling that fairies might be found - if you know what you’re looking for, and where to look. The section on language and secret scripts will undoubtedly inspire young readers to write their own fairy codes, while coverage of a huge range of habitats - from meadows, gardens and woodlands, to mountains, marine environments and jungles - gives a satisfying global feel. Alongside providing fairy-lovers with much fodder for exploration, this coverage of habitats, and information on the likes of leaves, plants and animals, might also spark a wider love of nature. Sumptuously presented, with a silk bookmark, and gold edging and cover foil supplementing Jessica Roux’s illustrations, this book’s style is every bit as charming as its content, which makes it a gift to treasure.