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Science should be exciting for young people, giving them skills and opportunities to improve their futures. Here are a selection of books we love, books we think will inspire every child to become more interested in Science.
Following the enormous success of Kay’s Anatomy, this is another tour-de force of informational writing. Children will be rolling around with laughter at all the gags, including a scribbled commentary from Great Aunt Prunella, who does not approve of the author’s obsession with farting and poo, and the hilarious comic strips and copious illustrations from the talented Mr Paker. But don’t be fooled – they will be learning an enormous amount about how humans came to understand the workings of the human body and how to fix it when it went wrong. Kay obviously relishes the ridiculous theories that abounded from ancient times through to relatively recent history and the frankly bizarre and terrifying treatments that were developed, as well as having a sincere respect for the pioneers who took the science forward. There is a great Doctorography section at the end to remind readers of all the stories they have read in the course of chapters which look at different parts of the body as well as individual sections on Surgery, Infections and Genetics. Each chapter ends with a look at the Future and Adam’s Answers where he explains facts and fallacies too good to miss out! The pioneers of medicine generally have a little feature Five Facts and A Lie about them, so the author is actively encouraging critical reading as he does with True or Poo fact boxes about some familiar misconceptions. He is also at pains to highlight the women who, despite being banned from medicine throughout most of its history nevertheless managed to innovate and discover. In a hugely enjoyable, page-turning read, this librarian particularly enjoyed he fact that the excellent index also contained jokes. Do see if you can spot them!
Imbued with infectious personal passion as it shares expert information and plenty of practical guidance, Vicki Hird’s Rebugging the Planet is a brilliant book for bug-lovers of all ages and, given bugs’ vital importance to the upkeep and well-being of Planet Earth (let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge the fact that bees contribute more to the UK economy than the Queen), it deserves to be enjoyed and implemented far and wide - at home, and in classrooms too. In fact, this is perfect for reading and implementing during longer holidays from school, or over the course of a term, especially chapter four which presents an extensive range of how-to ideas for re-bugging your own patch of the world. But back to the beginning. The book sets out its inspirational stall in the opening chapters by explaining all the vital things bugs do for us, among them pollinating plants, feeding birds, feeding humans, defending our food crops, cleaning our water, controlling pests, and healing us. Maggots, for example, can remove (munch) and disinfect rotting flesh, leeches can stop clots, and the honey made by bees has anti-inflammatory properties. To play a role in the author’s re-bugging initiative, readers might find themselves inspired to build a bug palace, buy bug-friendly food from bug-buddy farmers, and much more. This is packed with plenty of ways to live a bug-better life, which in turn means living on a better planet.
Scientifically detailed and packed full of information, this is a high-level introduction to the exceptionally complex demands of the building of bridges, tunnels and high rise city sky scrapers and how they have been solved. Structural engineer Roma Agrawal has chosen some iconic structures as case studies ranging historically from the Pantheon in Rome and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico which was built on a sucken Aztec pyramid to the great engineering feats of the nineteenth century including the Brooklyn Bridge and the London sewers. Bringing the story of development up to date she has a detailed account of the building of the Shard in London which she worked on! In addition the case studies, there is a mass of technical detail about how to make buildings watertight, stable and strong. From the humble brick to the latest methods of computer modelling everything that has helped man make buildings is included. A book to explore again and again this is also a celebration of great engineers and especially great women engineers!
‘Lawn-prowler, mist-parter’ wind is small and weak at the beginning of this lyrical, gorgeously illustrated picture book. But, ‘heat-snatcher, pressure-catcher’, it borrows strength from the Earth and with a huff and a puff, grows big and strong, sweeping across the globe, snatching up a seed and helicoptering it far and wide, across oceans and deserts to eventually deposit it in the Amazon soil, ‘like a flag on a newly found moon’. Dom Conlon’s poet-perfect words whirl and fly as light and powerful as the wind, while Anastasia Izlesou’s sumptuous, atmospheric illustrations slide in a page turn from the heat of a sandstorm in Chad to the darkness of an Atlantic storm and the uncontrolled wild beauty of a Florida hurricane. A page of Wind Facts delves into words and ideas that might be unfamiliar, and this is both informative and inspiring.
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.
As we know, Marie Curie was a trail blazer in so many ways – a woman in science, the first woman to win Nobel Prizes, a major protagonist in the discovery of radiation and x-rays. We may know much less about her background and her family history. This graphic novel shows us just some of the many problems Marie Curie had to rise above in her native Poland - where women were not allowed at the Universities. Told through a series of panels this biography includes all the scientific discoveries in a simple, easily accessible format that exposes the dangers, as well as the advantages of radiation. The illustrations are clear with plenty of room given to the text so that is easy to read and follow. A good addition to classroom collections – and will have special appeal for those pupils who may prefer a graphic approach or be less enthusiastic readers. There is a companion graphic book from Sunbird Books, It's Her Story: Rosa Parks, the hero behind the Montgomery Bus Strike.
Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2022 Information Books 3-14 | A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Until approximately 100 years ago wolves had roamed freely in Yellowstone Park and their existence had shaped the eco-system of that vast expanse of wilderness. But, over the years, hunters killed off the wolves and everything in Yellowstone Park began to change. Elk took over the valleys eating everything they could so many plant species disappeared, bears went hungry and many of the familiar birds flew away. Yellow stone Park was changed! A plan was hatched to put wolves back into the habit making sure that their arrival would only do good. It was complex and daring but, once it had been carried off, fourteen wolves began a new life and the ecology of Yellowstone Park began to change again… Catherine Barr tells most of the story as narrative non-fiction which brings the environment and the animals vividly to life. Further facts are added in an additional, fact-filled section. Jenni Desmond’s illustrations evoke the wild and mysterious background of Yellowstone Park perfectly.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month April 2021 | Packed full of illustrations, exciting experiments - and even comic strips - That's Life! encourages young scientists to start looking for the living things around them. Life is everywhere on planet Earth. Jungles, deserts, seas, plains, fields and forests - all of them teem with life but, amazingly, you can also find lots of living things hidden in your home, and even hidden inside you!
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.
This exciting non-fiction picture book introduces young readers to the fascinating (and cutting-edge) science of the very, very small. Everything is made from something - but the way we make things, from the materials we use to the science and technology involved, is changing fast. Nano offers a fascinating narrative introduction to this cutting-edge area of STEM, better known by the name nanotechnology .
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.
Who knew you could do so much with – and learn so much from – an ordinary glass jar? Created by scientist and educator Dr Sai Pathmanathan, this book contains 50 accessible, low-cost, hands-on science activities that will educate and inspire young minds about everything from magnets to matter, and light to evolution. And the most amazing thing is, pretty much all you need to set them up, is a jar. Dr Pathmanathan believes that science can be most awe-inspiring when we work things out for ourselves, and that’s definitely borne out here, where children are inspired to think about science, and use what they observe themselves to come to conclusions. The instructions for each experiment are easy to follow and accompanied by clear explanations of the science behind it, as well as suggestions for additional activities. Designed for use at home or at school, this will definitely appeal to enquiring minds and open up a world of wonder. One word of warning though – there are some groan-inducing puns as chapter titles!