Non-Fiction

Review: Remarkable Trees by Christina Harrison and Tony Kirkham.

Review: Remarkable Trees by Christina Harrison and Tony Kirkham.

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Trees are remarkable. As the introduction to this beautiful book notes, they are central to our existence, providing, food, shelter, resins, and materials which we use to support our everyday life. Trees are also incredible examples of evolution. You only have to compare the trees of one climate to another to see that they have adapted to survive in their habitat. 

Over 8000 species are currently under threat and yet too often we are unaware of trees, treating them as scenery instead of as living, breathing plants. 

This wonderful book, written by two experts from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, details the lives and plights of over sixty trees. 

What is interesting about this book is the sections it is divided into are all about the human relationship with trees. Building And Creating, Feasting And Celebrating, Healers And Killers, Body And Soul, Wonders Of The World, Threatened and Endangered – nearly all of these headings are about our existing knowledge of trees. That the Caco tree creates chocolate, or that Mahogany was once popular for furniture is relatively common knowledge. However, once you reach the pages on the individual trees, you learn not only about the human relationship to the tree but about the plant itself. This is something like moving a lens away from the close-by towards the distance and the unknown. 

Even the trees we walk past every day have hidden lives of their own. 

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Each fact file is three or four pages long and accompanied by full-colour pictures. Headed with the common and Latin name, there is also a single fact away from the main text which stands out to a reader flicking through the book. This not only makes it a great coffee table book, but it is also a wonderful way to hook a reader. I found myself drawn in by these snippets and had to read more.  

It is fascinating how much of human history we can learn through the lens of trees. Remarkable Trees touched on trade and diet, literature and religion, all by studying human interaction with trees.

The illustrations are detailed, both the full page botanical drawings and pictures which show the tree in situ, as it were, which help us to build an idea of how trees differ across the world’s habitats. The muted colours and exquisite detail make this the sort of book which you can’t help but pick up. 

A stunning non-fiction title or coffee table book. This would make a beautiful gift for anyone with a growing interest in the natural world and reading it reminds us that we live in a truly remarkable world. 

 

Thanks to Thames & Hudson in association with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for my copy of Remarkable Trees. Opinions my own.

Blogmas 2018 · christmas · Middle Grade Reviews

Review: The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig And Chris Mould

Review: The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig And Chris Mould

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Review: The Truth Pixie by Matt Haig And Chris Mould

Once upon a time, a little pixie was cursed to always tell the truth. Always – even when it might be insulting. Every single social situation goes wrong and Truth Pixie is about to give up when she is confronted with Aada – an unhappy child who wants to know if things get better. Truth Pixie is terrified because all she can tell is the truth …

A rhyme which will speak to anyone who has ever been afraid or had a difficult time.

Matt Haig is an author who has written and spoken about his experiences with mental health. He is an advocate for changing attitudes towards mental health, particularly towards eradicating the stigma and giving mental and physical health equal priority.

Aada is the character in the story who appears to need a comforting fib. Her Dad is out of money, they will be forced to move from their house and Gran is terribly ill. Aada is going to lose friends as a result of her situation. Most people would tell Aada it’s all OK – but the difficult truth is, it isn’t. Lying won’t change Aada’s situation and it won’t make her feel better in the long-run. I related to this. I can’t bear it when someone dies and the news is drawn out into a string of false hope and comfort. The only way to deal with something so huge is to hear it. It will be terrible. It will be dire. Telling people otherwise will never, ever change this. 

Truth Pixie has the right words because, just as Aada is about to face a dark time, better times will come again. There will be times when life feels impossibly wonderful and times when it feels unbearable. This is the unfortunate truth of the human experience … and knowing it can make the dark times bearable.

The Truth Pixie is a character from the Christmas stories by Matt Haig and Chris Mold. Hearing this message from a familiar character will add an extra-dimension because it associates positive approaches to mental health with existing works. If characters from these stories have bad mental health moments, it reassures the reader that these experiences are normal and manageable.

The Truth Pixie is an open, honest rhyme which will help anyone facing a difficult time. It will also make people who are a bit too honest for their own good feel better, and give them confidence that just as the truth can be difficult, sometimes it can be the best policy.

 

Thanks to Canongate Books for my copy of The Truth Pixie. Opinions my own.