Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: When Sue Found Sue by Toni Buzzeo and Diana Sudyka

Review: When Sue Found Sue by Toni Buzzeo and Diana Sudyka

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Sue Hendrickson was born to find things. From the moment she was a little girl, she was on the lookout for curious objects to take home and study. The shy, intelligent child grew into an explorer, and in 1990 Sue Hendrickson found a whole T-Rex skeleton in the cliffs of South Dakota. Her team decided that the fossil should be named after Sue. 

A real-life story about a woman who lived her passions.

The first thing I loved about When Sue Found Sue was it didn’t push the inspirational narrative. Recently there have been such a number of books about inspirational lives that the phrase has lost all meaning. When Sue Found Sue begins with a shy, studious kid who found a way to follow her interests as an adult. I prefer these authentic life stories because the whole reason to tell them is to show that great things start with passion and drive. 

The illustrations hint at Sue’s love for the outdoors. Even when she is inside, there are trees and birds visible through the windows, and when she is outdoors she appears to be part of the great sweeping landscapes and underwater worlds. A double spread picture of the fossil brings to live the enormity of what Sue Hendrickson found. 

A note at the back puts the story into context and discusses the ethical questions raised by the fossil’s ‘discovery’. My favourite quote says simply that, at one point, only Sue Hendrickson didn’t believe she owned Sue [the fossil]. Regardless of how other people behaved, Sue  Hendrickson respected the world’s treasures. 

A wonderful introduction to Sue’s story and the kind of book which makes readers want to get up and follow their own passion. 

 

Thanks to Abrams Books for my gifted copy of When Sue Found Sue. Opinions my own. 

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Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Meet The Pirates by James Davies.

Review: Meet The Pirates by James Davies.

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Yarr! Prepare for a voyage of discovery on the seven seas. Everybody has an image of pirates from films and stories, but who were the real-life pirates across history? What does piracy involve? Meet The Pirates is an accessible and humorous introduction to a favourite topic. 

From the Vikings to the modern day pirates with GPS systems, the book is like  a time-line of piracy. 

img_8171This book continues an already popular series which looks at the periods of history covered by the KS2 curriculum. It is easy to see why the series has taken off. The books are highly visual and the information is broken up by the illustrations. Each page contains a short amount of text. It is easy to make the mistake of looking for non-fiction books which match a child’s fictional reading skills, but readers have limited patience when they are learning new facts. The information needs to be broken up, and what is there needs to be written in such a way that it is engaging and memorable, without skimping on the content. 

The limited colour-palette of the illustrations makes the book look trendy and modern. They still manage to incorporate a lot of information, from the kind of pistol Blackbeard carried to the sails on different ships. The illustrations are as informative as the text. 

I love the features of the book. The title of each topic is written down both sides of every spread, so readers can flick through and find the relevant information with ease. As well as informative illustrations, such as a map of trading routes and an image gallery of different types of ship, there are cartoons and humorous illustrations. The importance of comedy in children’s books can’t be stressed enough. For many readers, these cartoons are the reward for taking in new information.

This will doubtless be a hit with teachers and librarians, but it would also make a lovely introduction to the topic for children who have shown an interest in pirates fictional or otherwise. I am hugely impressed with these books and look forward to sharing my review of Meet The Ancient Greeks. 

 

Thanks to Big Picture Press for my copy of Meet The Pirates. 

 

 

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Hello World Animals by Nicola Edwards and L’Atelier Cartographik

Review: Hello World Animals by Nicola Edwards and L’Atelier Cartographik

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A lift-the-flap atlas which explores the wildlife by location, teaching readers simultaneously about wildlife and geography. 

The book is a large-format with thick cardboard pages. There is something exciting about holding a book this size. It demands that you settle down and get lost in its pages. Inside are eight double-page spreads: one for each continent and one introductory section.

img_7385The introduction explains that some animals have spread across the world because of their relationship with humans while others are so adaptable they can survive almost anywhere. This was an interesting start because it didn’t shy away from the fact that human activity has had an impact on wildlife. This section also introduces the seven continents, giving a hint about what is coming in the rest of the book. 

Each spread shows the map of one continent. Different animals are located on these maps, with information hidden under flaps. This interactive element will keep readers engaged and guessing what there might be to learn. Flaps also act as a great memory-game when readers are more familiar with the book. Around the maps are different fact files, with topics as varied as camouflage, the life-cycle of a butterfly and environmental crisis. 

Although the format is friendly for readers as young as four, the facts are in-depth enough that this book will satisfy much older readers and it will certainly keep the adults interested. 

A beautiful gift for any lover of wildlife or budding explorer and a wonderful way of learning more about our planet. 

 

Thanks to Little Tiger Press for my copy of Hello World Animals. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction

Review: Irreplaceable: A History Of England in 100 Places by Philip Wilkinson

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Historic places represent inventions, achievements, and discoveries which have shaped the country and the world beyond. From the observatory in Greenwich to the Howarth parsonage – we are drawn to places where remarkable work has taken place. 

This book is the result of a campaign designed to promote and celebrate Britain’s historical places. The sites were chosen by 10 expert judges, including BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz and classicist and academic Mary Beard. The introduction from author and historian Bettany Hughes draws attention to the fact that, in conflict zones, similar sites have been destroyed, and suggests we should celebrate the places which represent our human experience. 

The book is divided into ten chapter which cover different disciplines. There is a chapter dedicated to places of Loss and Destruction, as well as one to Power, Protest and Progress. These chapters link back to the introduction and remind us that human progress should never be taken for granted. 

Each site is covered in a double-page spread. Photographs on one side are accompanied by information on the other. The location of each site is made clear, and the reasons for its significance are explored. I enjoyed the photography alone – Historic England holds one of the largest photographic archives in the country and many of the pictures in the book come from these archives. Reading the book made me aware of this invaluable resource which is just waiting to be explored.

I can see this being a popular coffee-table book – the entries have enough depth to be interesting but are short enough that people might enjoy flicking through. Prepare to draw up a bucket-list of places you would like to visit – the best part of reading the book as a person in the UK was knowing how many of these sites were just outside my doorstep. 

 

Thanks to Historic England and MidasPR for my copy of Irreplaceable: A History Of England in 100 Places. Opinions my own.

Non-Fiction · Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: Peek And Seek by Charlotte Milner and Violet Peto

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Review: Peek And Seek by Charlotte Milner and Violet Peto

A flock of birds. A troop of monkeys. Peek under each flap to discover different animals, learn fun facts about their species and uncover a great big hide and seek game. With five different flaps and ten things to find in each spread, this book will keep young explorers happy for hours. 

I adore this book because it is a fact-file which is accessible to very young readers. Before we read paragraphs and sentences, before we even recognise letters, we have positive experiences with books. Hide-and-seek games are a wonderful way to share time with children. They are also brilliant for keeping kids entertained and they encourage children to be observant. Trusting that information is on the page, even if we can’t initially see it, is an important step to analytical-thinking. 

peekandseek2The short facts on each spread will encourage reading skills and help children to take an interest in wildlife. With more people than ever out of touch with nature, it is important that we use books and media to pass on our knowledge and vocabulary of the natural landscape. 

Peek And Seek is bold and colourful, with appealing illustrations. Each spread takes us straight into the landscape of the different species, from the snowy mountains where the wolves hunt to the burrows and tunnels beneath tree-roots where rabbits hide their food. There is lots to be learned from the illustrations alone: which other species can be found in a habit, what sort of home the animals keep and whereabouts in the world they might be found. The illustrations promote huge amounts of conversation which will teach children about the natural world. 

An attractive and engaging book which demands to be shared and enjoyed together. 

 

Many thanks to Antonia Wilkinson and Dorling Kindersley Limited for my copy of Peek And Seek. Opinions my own.