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Are you fascinated to read about people and places? We have a collection of books about famous people, the jobs we do, the cities we live in and the world around us.
The Magic of Exploring the Outdoors After Dark | Calling all outdoor adventurers who want to walk on the wild side by the light of the moon! While there’s no shortage of brilliant books to inspire and guide nature exploration in young adventurers, Chris Salisbury’s Wild Nights Out is the first nature guide to focus on night-time activities, which gives both the book and its activities a distinct and decidedly magical edge. With a foreword by Chris Packham, this is a brilliant book for grown-ups to use with 7+-year-olds who share their passion for the great outdoors. The text addresses adults, as opposed to chattily speaking to children direct, but with a background in theatre and environmental education, and currently working as professional storyteller alongside directing the Call of the Wild Foundation programme for educators-in-training, the author is well-placed to advise on how to engage young explorers. As for the activities, the book covers a blend of games, walks and sensory experiences, the latter of which form an excellent foundation from which to explore the world at night, with exercises designed to focus and enhance one’s sensory perceptions. Then there are practical activities covering the likes of learning to call for owls, detect bats and understand the night sky alongside immersive theatrical activities, such as hosting nocturnal animal performances and fireside storytelling. With black-and-white illustrations throughout and activities to last the entire summer holidays, this certainly shines an inspiring and informative light on night-time nature.
Written and illustrated by award-winning artist and current affairs specialist George Butler, Drawn Across Borders is a unique empathy-inspiring portrayal of the affecting personal experiences of twelve migrants, covering countries as diverse as Tajikistan, Myanmar, Kenya, Syria and Palestine. It’s an honest, awe-inspiring tribute to the featured individuals, a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and a timely reminder that real people lie behind every news story on migrants. Real people with real (and varied) reasons for leaving places they once called home. Butler frames the book with brilliant clarity: “People move around the world for many reasons. Some migration is voluntary; most is not.” The written portraits are deeply personal, framed by the author’s experiences on the frontlines of - for example - refugee camps, and based on his conversations with migrants. When combined with the accompanying painterly illustrations, they create a book that draws the heart and eye to a clutch of stories that should be known. Recommended for readers aged 11 upwards who have an interest in current affairs and history (adults included), this would also make a valuable springboard for discussing migration and global politics in a classroom context.
Filled with breath-taking double-page spreads, this beautiful picture book not only encourages children to stretch, uncurl and spread wide like a tree, it demonstrates how very similar we are (Your skin is bark/protecting what’s within), and shows how our good health is mutually dependant. Glowing illustrations depict a variety of trees, viewed from different angles and perspectives, but always centre stage while human beings, often tiny in comparison, walk or play underneath or climb the branches. The text doesn’t say it outright – it doesn’t need to – but this is a depiction of the world as it should be, one of harmony and community, where we are all reaching for the sun. There’s so much to enjoy and so much to wonder at and learn; the final pages feature facts and information about trees, their anatomy as well as what you can do to help them, and instruct readers too on how to be a tree in their community. This is one of those books that makes you see the world differently.
Casting Mona Lisa as a self-important, been there, done that, bought-the-t-shirt-in-the- museum-gift-shop character (“She loved the attention! She loved the crowds…I know everything and everyone knows me”), Yevgenia Nayberg’s Mona Lisa in New York presents a playful, strikingly-illustrated picture book ode to New York’s distinctive wonders through its unique, irreverent take on a 500-year-old enigma. After journeying across the ocean “so people far away could also admire her beauty”, and being marvelled at by crowds in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mona Lisa is in for a shock when she decides to wander the city alone at night and gets lost. No problem, she thinks. Everyone knows who I am. Except they don’t. In fact, “No one paid any attention to her.” Thankfully, she encounters Tag, a graffiti art character from Brooklyn. While Mona Lisa is loath to accept that she’s the same as Tag, and while she initially insists that she knows everything, Tag kindly takes her hand and shows her NYC in all its kaleidoscopic glory - they listen to jazz in Harlem, eat pizza in the Bronx, salsa dance on the High Line, and swim on Brighton Beach. “Turns out there’s so much I didn’t know,” she admits when they part. It also turns out that New York has captured Mona Lisa’s heart. Great for introducing little ones to New York, this will also make an excellent springboard for talking about art and culture in all their forms.
Inspiring children to protect our planet is an essential part of the fight against climate change and the neglect of our wild and special places. Antarctica is bursting with beautiful illustrations and surprising facts, with nature, history and even geo-politics wrapped up in an entertaining and logical narrative. Kids reading this book will get to learn the importance of research and science to the environment, while at the same time adding to their knowledge of whales, penguins, seals, volcanoes … and of course ice! The stories and pictures also speak to the adventurer within all of us, bringing to life an alien yet magical landscape which in the grand scheme of things has only been recently discovered. My favourite fact is that when you are at the South Pole the only way you can look is north. If only I’d thought about that that when I was seven… Antarctica is a wonderful example of how a book in the hands of a child might just change the world. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
The future is in our hands | This is a book which follows through on commitment – not only is it sustainably produced, but one tree will be planted for every book sold in the UK. It is also a beautifully designed and illustrated book with a carefully thought out structure and page layout to really aid comprehension and understanding. The first section explains the causes of climate change, from greenhouse gases to deforestation, and the combined effect of agriculture, energy production and consumption, buildings and mining. The next section shows the effects on rising sea levels, biodiversity, storms, flooding, heatwaves, wildfires etc. Each spread includes a mix of images, graphic representations, text boxes and conveys a great deal of information in a clear, accessible and engaging manner. There is also a Changemaker feature on every page which gives brief details about a young person affected by these issues and what they did to combat them. The third section “Our Part” shows the individual contribution to the problem and is the clearest explanation I have seen of the carbon footprint of our food, our clothes, our homes, our travel and our stuff! But far from being a depressing book, the last section “ Inspiration” lists more young Groundbreakers and tells us what we each can do and what sort of green futures we can work towards, revealing more amazing ideas getting started than I had thought possible. A detailed and informative glossary ensures this book takes no chances with understanding. This is an outstanding information book which is useful for a wide range of students.
A man with an obsession for straight lines and sharp angles is converted by a sudden encounter with nature and learns to live a happier, more relaxed life as a result in Thibaut Rassat’s quirky, thought-provoking book. Architect Eugene likes order and tries his hardest to impose it in his own home and on the buildings he designs where everything has to be straight, square and in line. The builders have fun teasing him by leaving bathtubs on the balconies, but they’re caught out themselves when Eugene suddenly changes his view of the world. What provokes it? When a tree falls into his latest building, Eugene is struck by its beauty and the beauty of its curves and proportions. From then on, straight lines are out and nature and making things nicer for wildlife well and truly in. It’s a book to give children real insight into what an architect does, and how, but it will also open their eyes to the beauty and unexpected order of the natural world.
April 2021 Book of the Month | This bestseller that dominated the adult charts for some considerable number of weeks has now been adapted for younger readers losing something like 100 pages in the process. This is the life story of Michelle Obama, from her poor but happy childhood on the Southside of Chicago to her current position as an ex-First Lady of the United States. It is written in a text that flows well – and gives the reader a searingly honest view of what life was like, the struggles and triumphs of a thoughtful, driven young black woman to get to top class US universities and gain excellent qualifications from them and to find her place in the world. Her meeting with Barack and their early life before politics impinged. Then, through the stages of their political life as a family – told in such a way that it is relatively easy to understand the complex political set-up in the US (something I always find rather confusing!) The highlight for me was seeing just how much Michelle was passionate about helping young people get what they needed – a better life, better nutrition, minority recognition and a sense of self-worth – which started whilst she was in college and continues right through her story. Her love of family and dislike for partisan politics – even whilst she had to exist within the political system – give one hope for the future and those young people she helped. A very readable and accessible biography for anyone with an interest in recent US history. Highly recommended.
The no-nonsense guide to being trans and/or non-binary for teens | What’s the T? is street talk for ‘tell me the truth’ and this is exactly what Juno Dawson sets out to do. This Book is Gay by the same author became a staple purchase for school libraries and this new title absolutely deserves the same treatment and indeed should be purchased for the staff shelf too. This reader is paranoid about the correct language and terminology and I feel far more confident in my understanding now. The excellent glossary is worth the purchase price alone. Although it sets out to answer all the possible questions that anyone feeling body dysmorphia or anybody supporting a friend or family member with similar anxieties, could come up with, my strongest impression was one of moral rectitude. Without being strident or patronising and in her warm, witty and friendly way, the author makes very clear the right of every human being to define themselves and to be able to live their lives without fear. Many misconceptions (often generated by ill-informed or blatantly hateful messages in mainstream and social media) are firmly laid to rest. Notably what is and is not actually possible in terms of treatment for young people under 18. The information and advice given does not sugar coat anything. Nobody could be left in any doubt of the difficulties and the time that it would take to make any sort of transition, nor that there is one simple answer or one simple journey. The fascinating look at the history of transgender in different cultures and the witness statements from trans and non-binary people across the globe, give those of us in our cisgender privilege a salutary wake-up call, which is why this book has value for any sociology, politics or philosophy students too. An essential purchase for secondary schools and a recommended addition to any young person's bookshelf. For more books visit our LGBTQI Literature Collection.
First published over 150 years ago, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species still shapes how we see the world, and his words and theories are fascinating for young people. This handsomely illustrated book clearly explains Darwin’s discoveries and what they revealed in a way that even young children will follow and understand. It’s divided into short, manageable sections, each examining and elucidating Darwin’s ideas on selection and evolution, the final pages bringing us right up to date and outlining what we can do now thanks to modern discoveries and technology. Beautiful to look at, it’s genuinely inspiring, a way to tune young readers into Darwin’s thought process and spark their imagination and interest in science as a result.
Written and illustrated with infectious verve, Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women Scientists and Their Stories puts paid to any notion that women’s role in science has been peripheral. In fact, despite huge impediments, and thanks to their intellect and tenacity, this inspiring book shows how women have been at the heart of many major discoveries - from finding the cure for malaria, to spearheading revolutionary DNA research, to making monumental advances in the fields of volcanology, astronomy, botany and chemistry (and more). Through an engaging blend of text, comic strips, fact boxes and diagrams, the book explores eight life-changing scientific innovators in detail. The fact that most of the scientists aren’t household names tells you everything you need to know about the importance of this book - these are innovators whose names should be known. Take Tu Youyou, for example, the Chinese chemist who spent months on a remote island researching traditional medicines in order to discover a cure for malaria, testing potentially dangerous preparations on herself - and all this against the precarious backdrop of the Cultural Revolution that saw her separated from her family and sworn to secrecy. Then there’s out-of-this-world Mae Jemison, an astoundingly multi-talented woman who grew up watching the first space missions during the Civil Rights Movement and went on to become the first African-American woman astronaut in 1992. Informative, inspiring and presented with passion and clarity, this is children’s non-fiction at its finest.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month January 2021 | The story of the brilliant scientist Marie Curie, the chemist/ physicist who made life saving discovery in medicine and won the Nobel Prize for her work has long been an inspiration to all budding scientists. Marie Curie overcame much prejudice against women scientists to succeed as she did and, in doing so, opened the doors for future generations of women. But Marie Curie had another important role as an inspiration to future generations: she was the mother of two scientists who also grew up to become women scientists in their own right. This rounded life of Marie Curie and her daughters is beautifully realised in words and pictures by sisters Imogen and Isobel Greenberg in a book that will encourage all readers to take bold steps in life.