NEW TITLES

Nature and the seasons, evolution and climate change, as well as history told through pictures are just some of the areas covered in these wonderful illustrated non-fiction books for children.

Following the Tractor
Susan Steggall

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804891

One of a series of 'vehicle' picture books created by Susan Steggall, this one depicts the seasonal work done on the farm, with the tractor taking centre stage - ploughing the fields, sowing the seeds, collecting the corn after the harvest and baling the straw. Steggall's illustrations are created from collages of different kinds of paper, creating large blocks of vivid colours on the pages. This, together with the momentum of the story and the spare, poetic text, makes each of her books very engaging. In Following the Tractor, children will explore the year of a working farm and the many vehicles needed on a farm. The story can also be used to explain the seasons, perhaps to contrast the seasonal changes that many children will see in town rather than in the country. 32 pages / Ages 3+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Following the Tractor
Wild Adventures
Brita Granstrom

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804365

Wild Adventures provides some wonderful ideas for using play to explore nature and the book is packed with suggestions for having fun outdoors, from creating trails for children to follow, 'meeting' a tree, making mini rafts and tracking animals - and there's even a recipe for nettle soup! Each spread focuses on a specific activity, like picking berries or cloud watching, and illustrations show what you might find in these environments, in addition to the activities themselves. There are also lots of 'Stay Safe tips where needed, such as washing hands after picking berries. It's an excellent resource for ideas to enliven class nature trails, and there are plenty of illustrated facts to keep young nature-lovers browsing through its pages. Ages 6+ / 46 pages / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Wild Adventures
Nature's Day
Kay Maguire

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781847806086

This is a sumptious book that takes us through the seasons, focusing on different locations such as the woods, the vegetable patch, the pond, the farm and the orchard, as they are affected by each change in the weather. We find out what animals and insect life are attracted to each setting as the seasons progress, and we learn about the cycle of life. The gorgeous illustrations and snatches of text make this a beautiful book to browse individually as well as sharing it with children who can be encouraged to create their own depictions of particular seasons, perhaps including some of the wildlife and plantlife that the book explores. 80 pages / Ages 6+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone.

Nature's Day
The Great Big Green Book
Mary Hoffman

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804457

For those who are familiar with the 'Great Big Book Of...' series from Mary Hoffman and Ros Asquith, there will be delight in discovering a new 'big book', this time The Great Big Green Book which explores environmental issues. It begins with an exploration of wonder - the Earth's place in space and how wonderful our world is with its oceans and trees, before starting to explain issuse like pollution, climate change and endangered species, and the damage that humans are inflicting on Earth. There are, though, lots of practical suggestions and ideas for how we can start to help change things, and children are encouraged to ask lots of questions like, 'How could you feed everyone in the world'? From the initial exploration of green issues, questions like these can lead on to broader discussions about why we do what we do and who really benefits? The final few pages also suggest that it will be up to children - our future generation - to create the inventions we will need to clear up the mess we have created. So despite the problems it outlines, this is an ultimately upbeat book that challenges all of us to make the change and provides plenty of ideas for how to start that at home and in the classroom. There are also some useful weblinks on the back page. 40 pages / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Great Big Green Book
Actual Size
Steve Jenkins

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847805942

It's lovely to see Actual Size back again in this new edition - you might remember the original paperback with the gorilla's hand (it's actual size) on the cover. This book is beautifully produced and is such a useful tool for lessons on size and comparative size. I still love the spread that compares the huge gorilla's hand with that of the tiny pygmy mouse lemur, but I know that children will be most excited by the saltwater crocodile, where the page folds out to show the size of its truly awesome jaws, and not forgetting the glimpse we get into the mouth of a great white shark! Other revelations incude the giant earth worm, a massive stick insect and the eye of a giant squid - and many more. There are two pages of facts at the end of the book explaining more about each creature included in the book. A classic. 32 pages / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by L Steal, teacher.

Actual Size
The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution
Catherine Barr

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847804853

The Story of Life - 'a first book about evolution' - is an ambitious but clearly-explained guide to how life on Earth may have started, ideal for children who want to know more about 'how we got here'. Evolution is told like a story, 'At first, nothing lived on Earth', and the text is accompanied by colourful, dramatic drawings with additional notes to explain what we are looking at. Each spread explains a certain phase in our development, starting at the time when there was no life on Earth, through the dinosaur age and moving all the way through to life on Earth today. A timeline, at the bottom of each page, tells us how many millions or billions of years ago this was happening. The book touches on very complex subjects, like the development of life from the first cells and man's evolution, but does so in a way that makes it understandable for those coming to these concepts for the first time. It could be used to encourage children to make their own 'timeline' display of evolution, working as a class or in groups, and will certainly prompt lots of discussions about life on Earth - and what we as humans have done to change the world we live in. 32 pages (illustrated) / Ages 7+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution
Roman Fort
Mick Manning

Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

ISBN 9781847806253

Frances Lincoln's 'Fly on the Wall' series - the Viking Longboat has also just been republished - is a really useful resource for introducing children aged 8+ to what life might have been like if you lived at these times. Each book is told using lively, colourful sketches accompanied by notes explaining what we are looking at which really bring the history to life. They are laid out a little like a scrapbook of facts, so they are ideal for more reluctant as well as confident readers. Roman Fort features a fort like the ones that existed at Hadrian's Wall and at other parts of the Roman empire. We find out how large they were, what life was like as a soldier and a civilian, with glimpses into everyday life including going to the toilet, having a bath, what people wore and what children played with. Look out next month, February, for two more in the series republishing - Pharaoh's Egypt and Greek Hero.

Roman Fort
Wall
Tom Clohosy Cole

ISBN 9781783700776

Wall is a most interesting and unique subject matter for a picture book. It is concerns the Berlin Wall, built in 1961 to divide East and West Berlin, and its publication coincides with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. Although the book has minimal text the subject matter is definitely for Key Stage 2 pupils. The story focus is a family divided by the wall; the father in West Berlin and the mother and two children in bleak East Berlin. The narrator is the young son who decides he cannot bare being separated from his father, so he digs a tunnel to escape. The book makes mention of the different ways people tried to escape from the East; some more successful than others. This escape has a happy ending as the family are reunited. A real strength of the book are Tom Clohosy Cole's illustrations which are very atmospheric and hold a great deal of the narrative. The book would be an excellent text to explore issues related to divided families, migration and feelings of loss. Picture book / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Fiona Collins, consultant

Wall
Animalium
Jenny Broom

Big Picture Press

ISBN 9781783700608

The concept of this book is delicious - a 'virtual museum' where you can discover more than 160 animal specimens in its pages. Wander the galleries and find a curated collection on every page...gorgeously illustrated and bringing to mind the early illustrated books on natural history, so beloved by the Victorians. Animalium begins with the 'Tree of Life' which 'encompasses all of the animals on the planet and shows how each genus is related' and how they have each evolved from the other over millions of years. Then we can explore each group in turn - invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, as well as a variety of habitats such as Rainforests, Coral Reefs, Woodlands and Arctic Tundra. Alongside this overview, we are invited to find out about distinct creatures in detail, like the elephant, penguin and crocodile. While the illustrations are the main draw, the text brings it all together with bite-size pieces of information as well as a useful overview of each group. It is a lovely book to 'dip into', just as you would in a museum, choosing the exhibits you wanted to find out more about. Its size, almost A3, makes it perfect for sharing with groups or using in displays. And it is certainly one that children from 8-11 years - and many adults - will enjoy exploring. 95 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by ReadingZone

Animalium