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June 2022 Book of the Month | When Martha invites us into her wonderful world, she’s too small for readers to see. That’s because the first spread in the book is an illustration of the universe. We zoom in tighter and tighter, as Martha maps out the solar system for us, then Earth, her city, her street until finally we see inside her bedroom and her head. All the way through, Martha is the cheeriest of guides, her maps and cut outs labelled to show us all the most important and interesting things. It’s lovely to look at and Martha’s excitement and enthusiasm for the world around her is catching. It’s also a brilliant way of demonstrating the ways we’re all connected, to our communities and our world. Expect readers to be drawing their own maps as a result.
Half human, half vampire, Isadora Moon is 100% brilliant, especially for those growing in reading confidence. In this story, she’s puzzling about what to do for her class space project so joins her vampire dad for some stargazing. They notice two bright lights falling from the sky and go out to find them, only to discover that the lights they saw weren’t shooting stars but Nova, a Glow Sprite, and her cheeky moon kitten, Pluto, who’s now lost. Can Isadora find Pluto before Nova’s parents notice they’re missing? Readers will wish they lived Isadora’s life, flying into the forest with her family to enjoy an overnight camping trip as they help Nova track down Pluto. Tt all comes to happy ending with Nova and Pluto reunited, and Isadora enjoying a gift of moon cheese, a present from outer space! With their pretty pink and black illustrations and lively adventures, these are deservedly popular, and this is a sparkling addition to the series.
Part of the Very Short Introductions for Curious Young Minds series, The Secrets of the Universe tackles big questions in manageable bite-sized chunks. This colourful, compact book can’t be beaten on the accessibility front as it answers questions like “what is the universe?”, “how big is it?”, “what’s our place in it?”, with “Speak like a Scientist” boxes highlighting key terminology budding scientists will relish adding to their vocabulary. As the book takes us through the history of studying the universe, and explains everything from gravity, galaxies and the lives of stars, to the Big Bang, the infographics, photographs and cartoons make digesting big concepts a tasty delight. And, like all the books in this impressive series, The Secrets of the Universe was created by experts. In this case, the book was written by a doctor of astrophysics in consultation with a Cambridge University cosmologist.
The planets are going on holiday. Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Uranus, Mercury, Neptune and Saturn – they’re all packed and ready to go. But apparently there’s no room on the bus for Earth. She’s upset, and then determined so she sets off in her car and confronts the others about why didn’t they let her on. Their answer is surprising: they left her out because they think she’s got fleas… When Earth points out what the real reason is for all that movement, the others are amazed at the myriad of birds, fish, animals and insects that live on Earth. She explains to them too that they can’t catch the things she’s got, to support life you have to be just right. In Alex Latimer’s illustrations all the planets have personalities and their holiday to the Milky Way looks like great fun. There’s a message to learn about being kind to others, but lots of information to pick up too on the planets and their characteristics, and it’s all delivered in a satisfying rhyming text. And how can you resist any book that depicts the moon as a friendly little dog?
March 2022 Book of the Month | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month March 2022 | Ada loves watching the stars. Its hard to see them well from her home in New York City where there are always so many lights on – even at night. So she can’t wait to visit her grandparents in their quiet home by the sea. Here the nights get properly dark so that the stars shine really brightly. Ada is impatient for night to fall . To entertain her until it does, her grandfather introduces her to all the things of interest on the sea shore as well as telling her all about how the stars are made. He explains the gigantic scale of the galaxies and the incredible and impossible amount of time it would take her to actually reach the stars…Full of life and wonder and raising many of the questions that all children ask, the book is given an extra dimension by the clever interweaving of vivid contemporary illustrations with mind-expanding photographs taken from the Hubble telescope.
Penelope Snoop, self-styled Best-Finder-Outer-in-the-Whole-Wide-World has a successful track record in solving mysteries, but she’s facing her biggest case: her constant companion Sidney the Smelly Sock Snake has disappeared. Time to pull out the Finder-Outer kits (sidekick Carlos the dog is less keen on the hat than Penelope) and start tracking down clues. A trail of muddy footprints leads through the garden, up to the moon and back, and finally all the way to – surprise! - her mum’s wellies. There’s Sidney, in the washing machine. The story fizzes with fun, invention and energy, Penelope’s adventures brilliantly depicted in eye-catching, action-packed illustrations, details picked out in vivid neon pink. The text is just as jaunty, and this little detective is sure to prove a favourite with picture book fans.
Aliens! Spaceships! Poo-scented air fresheners! | From the creator of the zany Iguana Boy series, James Bishop’s Worst Day Ever is a blast of intergalactic adventure, aliens and empathy. Packed with high-stakes hijinks and awesome illustrations by Fay Austin, it’s a fast-paced page-turner with huge appeal for fans of funny fiction that doesn’t let up, with plenty of letting-off type jokes, to boot! “My name is Mylan Bletzleburger and I come from a little yellow and red planet called Empathia”. As the planet’s name suggests, Empathians are “cursed with an overwhelming sense of empathy for others… We have so much empathy for others that we feel exactly what those around us are feeling, from complex emotions to stubbed toes”. Talking of stubbed toes, that’s exactly what’s happened to Chloe when Mylan starts following her, as a result of him travelling the universe in search of people to help. Then, when Mylan makes a mistake, the unlikely pair find themselves having to save planet Earth from being recycled. With countless rib-tickling descriptions (“the Universe stinks... It started off as a light stink, a bit like when you fart in the bath”) and hilarious banter between Mylan and Chloe, Worse Day Ever is sure to transform even the most irritating of days into a far brighter experience.
Travel with Light as she zips between the many types of stars a trillion miles and more apart, from the gust of a solar wind through the unblinking emptiness of space to see planets rise and fall. Complete with a list of facts about the stars that fill our sky and why they are important, this charming poetic picture book combines fiction and non-fiction to make a perfect educational resource for children whether at home or in the classroom.
Wonder: The Natural History Museum Poetry Book is a beautiful gift hardback collection of poetry with poems inspired by The Natural History Museum. It covers everything from the depths of space to the very centre of the earth - there are poems about the solar system, planet earth, oceans and rivers, birds, dinosaurs, fossils, wildlife, flowers, fungi, insects, explorers and palaeontologists. This fantastic collection speaks of the wonder of nature and shows us why we need to look after our incredible planet.
Bouncing with energy and full of fascinating facts, Meet Matilda Rocket Builder is an ingenious blend of comic character-driven story and in-depth exposition of big scientific subjects. Brilliantly brought to life through Heidi Cannon’s doodle-style illustrations - the perfect partner to Dom Conlon’s smart stream-of-consciousness text - ten-year-old Matilda’s enthusiasm and ambition knows no bounds - she has “BRAINS! And I’m determined to use them.” Sagely, Matilda has observed that “we don’t encourage each other often enough...We’re just not used to saying ‘you can do this’ anymore.” With that at the forefront of her busy mind, Matilda is determined to build a spaceship and make it to the moon. The humour (or should that be poo-mour..?) is spot-on, and always totally relevant. For example, Matilda’s detailed explanation of gravity is reached via a lengthy discussion of the weight of her poo. Other topics covered include air pressure, escape velocities and coding. Though perfect for confirmed science and space buffs, this also comes (especially) recommended for young readers who haven’t yet found that all-important spark to ignite their interest in science - Matilda’s passion is infectious and her way of looking at the likes of physics and astronomy will surely kindle that spark. One thing’s for sure, the world could do with a few more Matildas in it.
With this book, you’ll have everything you need to explore the universe, and from the comfort of your own home. It’s full of information on the planets, stars and constellations, together with practical learning activities that can be done in the back garden or your bedroom, from how to make an astronomical torch, to how to take a star trail photo, to how to explore gravity with the help of marbles. You can use the book as a journal, recording your findings as you go, while regular ‘did you know?’ boxes add to the sense of excitement and discover. The design is bright and appealing, with colour photos scattered throughout too, and this is accessible, stimulating and lots of fun.
Winner of the UKLA Book Awards 2020 Information book category | Told with crystalline clarity and verve, and fabulously enhanced by the stylish illustrations, this tells the remarkable against-the-odds tale of Katherine Johnson from her days as an exceptional African American schoolgirl whose “boundless curiosity turned her into a star student”. But despite her brightness, ten-year-old Katherine faced the terrible restraints of segregation – as an African American she wasn’t permitted to study at her local high school. As she “burned with fury”, her family determined to get Katherine the education she deserved and so they moved to a town with a high school for black students. Her path to working on Project Apollo required incredible perseverance, but thanks to that, and to her outstanding mathematical skills, the world could count on Katherine to set the moon landings back on course. Shot-through with a rousing sense of Katherine’s determination and dedication to her work, and with her shining mathematical brilliance, this beautiful book deserves to be on the shelves of every space-loving child.