Non-Fiction November

There are few greater pleasures in life than cracking open the cover of a beautifully-produced, chunky information book. To that end, I am delighted to be sharing some of the most recent (and very giftable) titles I have been sent.

A collection of 366 curious questions asked by children from around the world, based on the award-winning podcast by original QI Elf, Molly Oldfield. 

How much bamboo can a giant panda eat? 
Do aliens exist? 
What we would do if we didn’t have a prime minister? 
Why do hammerhead sharks have such strange-shaped heads?

Find out the answers to these curious questions and much, much more!
Ponder where ideas come from with award-winning illustrator, Rob Biddulph. Find out why you taste things differently when you have a cold with Michelin star chef, Heston Blumenthal. Learn about everything from how astronauts see in the dark to what the biggest dinosaur was with experts from the Natural History Museum. 4+

I love that this book is based on the weird and wonderful questions of children from around the world. I wish I’d had a copy when my children were younger and going through the ‘Why?’ phase!

Each question has been answered by an expert in that field so explanations are concise and accurate. Full of great vocabulary and vibrant illustrations, this would be an excellent Christmas gift choice for any curious child.

Where would you like to visit next? Take a tour of every single country in the world within the pages of The World Book. Packed with facts, stats and flags – explore different cultures and the best things to see, do and taste on this planet. Find out how to say ‘good morning’ in Maltese, the most popular dishes in Colombian cuisine, and where you can see over 60 species of hummingbird. Seek out the tallest mountain, the longest river, and everything in between. 8+

This glorious book features 199 countries, from the very largest (Russia) to the very smallest (Vatican City.) I thoroughly enjoyed travelling the world from the comfort of my armchair, and my sons had great fun deciding where they’d next like to go on holiday (I need to start saving!)

The spreads feature fact-files, flags, key phrases and a whole load of fascinating facts. Considering how much information they share, the pages are cleanly laid-out and brightly illustrated. One to enjoy dipping into at leisure.

From a fragile and beautiful bird egg to a glittering meteorite from space, discover more than 100 intriguing natural objects with fascinating tales to tell in this beautifully illustrated wildlife book for children.  

This unique nature reference book has a fun, new approach that teaches children about nature through objects. It includes:

   • More than 100 amazing objects that you can find in nature made by geological processes, or by plants and animals. 
   • Four chapters: Animals; Plants, Fungi and Algae; Minerals and Rocks; and Made by Nature. 
   • Illustrated diagrams that support understanding. 
   • Large, detailed photographs of truly fascinating objects. 
   • Eye-catching jacket finishes: gold foil, holographic foil and metallic gold edges. 

A lump of coal, a cacao pod, a mermaid’s purse, a fossil, a pine cone, an owl pellet and a chrysalis — all tell a story. Learn how bristly mouths help huge whales capture tiny animals, marvel at rocks and minerals forged through time, and discover how studying a leaf skeleton can tell us how it transports food.

This book is a real feast for the eyes! The close-up photography immediately captured the imagination of my boys as they marvelled at the lacy delicacy of a dragonfly wing and the crystalline perfection of a six-pointed snowflake. Each spread is well-spaced but full of facts, photos, and diagrams. This would be a great gift for inquisitive, nature-loving children. 8+

‘Welcome to the museum that is always open to explore…

Step inside the pages of Oceanarium to enjoy the experience of a museum from the comfort of your own home. This stunning offering from the Welcome to the Museum series guides readers around the world’s oceans, from sandy shorelines to the deepest depths. Get up close and personal with giant whale sharks, tiny tropical fish, majestic manatees and so much more, travel the world from frozen Arctic seas to shimmering coral reefs, and learn why it is so important that we protect our oceans.’

The first thing that strikes you about this book are the absolutely exquisite illustrations by Teagan White. They are so detailed and so accurate that a less confident reader would get just as much out of this book as someone who is more easily able to access the text.

The text itself has been produced by education expert Loveday Trinick, from the National Marine Aquarium U.K. The level is just right – enough scientific vocabulary to challenge and enrich but not so much that text is inaccessible. The passion behind this book is obvious – it shines from the book’s pages. 10+

From the author of the BBC’s children’s book Blue Planet II, this book takes you on a breathtaking tour of our planet – from towering mountaintops, through grasslands, jungles, rivers, deserts, polar wildernesses and into the blue ocean – to discover the incredible variety of life that calls it home. Along the way, read the stories of 35 inspiring Earth Shakers – children and adults, from tree-planters to scientists, from all around the world – who have taken action to protect it.

Includes a special foreword from Lee Durrell MBE, of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. 8+

Not only does this engaging book take you on a tour of some of the world’s most beautiful habitats, it also highlights the groups and individuals who are trying to protect them from destruction. From well-known campaigners such as Greta Thunberg, to lesser known activist such as Poorva Shrivastava who invented a carbon filter to purify a village’s water supply – there are lots of inspirational people and big thinkers to encourage readers to think about how they could make a difference to climate change before it’s too late. Very topical, full of vibrant illustrations – this will be a hit with readers aged 9+

‘We all know the effects that climate change is having on our planet – but what about the strange, and creative ways that scientists are working to find practical and imaginative answers to these big problems?

Following a day in the life of a child, we see how new green inventions could fit into everyday life, from brushing your teeth with biodegradable algae, to eating beetle burgers for lunch and coming home to do your homework with a pen with ink made from exhaust fumes.’

This book is as much fun as it is informative. Each new zone starts off with a numbered ‘search and find’ page bursting with environmentally-friendly innovations. Readers can then move on to learn more about each invention and how scientists think it could help save energy and slow down climate change.

The illustrations by Jisu Choi have a fun comic book, infographic style which illustrations which will have children thinking about familiar settings in a whole new way. The funny facts and cool inventions are sure to promote lots of discussion and interaction with the text.

Children are used to hearing about how important it is to protect nature, but they may not fully understand how the natural world can positively impact their emotional wellbeing. With that in mind, this book shows children how nature can be fun, uplifting, consoling and even offer companionship. This is a book about how nature can touch us all and help us with our lives (especially when we might be feeling bored, sad or lonely). 

Children learn about the ways in which they can be comforted, inspired and uplifted by examples of nature such as:

– a flowing river
– a cow in a field
– clouds in the sky
– rabbits in their burrows
– stars at night
– a cuddle with a favourite puppy

For readers aged 7+

What makes this book different to some other nature books is that it doesn’t just encourage readers to get outside because it’s good for them, it encourages them to connect with, and be inspired by, it. The qualities and skills of a varied range of animals are drawn upon as examples of how we could behave in a calmer, more resourceful way.

Written and illustrated by Sandra Dieckmann, The Secret Forest will take you and your child on a wonderful journey through peaceful woodlands.

Beginning at first light with a young fawn and his mum, you’ll meet foxes and butterflies, bears and bees, squirrels and birds galore – all before sun sets again and the moon rises over the trees as the night-time creatures come out to play.

What else will you see? 4+

There is so much to spot hidden in the depths of these warm, rich illustrations. Readers are introduced to a wealth of wildlife and their woodland homes: beavers, bears, squirrels, and wolves all take their places upon the pages, along with plenty of much smaller creatures for the eagle-eyed to spot and count. A brilliant text to encourage conversation, develop vocabulary, and improve concentration and focus on a text.

They say that seeing is believing – and there’s some truth in that. Highly sensitive receptor cells in our eyes, ears, noses, tongues and skin relay messages to the brain and allow us to interpret the things going on around us, creating our sense of reality. But how do our senses work? And how do they differ from the senses of other animals? 

This book takes young readers step by step through the biology of each of the senses. Clear texts are peppered with fascinating facts. Did you know that, unlike the other senses, smells are delivered directly to the parts of our brain that are responsible for memory and emotion, meaning that smells can trigger feelings in a way that sight or sound can’t? Did you know that a cow has about 250,000 tastebuds, compared to 5,000 of a human, and a mere 30 of a chicken? Or that earwax is 80% dead skin?

Full of just the type of obscure facts that will fascinate and delight young readers. This text features really clear explanations of how our senses work, how they work in other animals, and other sense that animals have but we don’t. The spreads are colourful and generously illustrated, which readers will love. 8+

‘This bulging compendium is loaded with all-new jaw-dropping, eye-popping, brain-bending facts and bright, bold photography! This year it’s even bigger with four brand new fact-packed chapters.

  • It pairs the planet’s weirdest facts with the coolest and strangest true stories
  • From strange rocks and baffling bridges to animal astronauts, ice marathons and awesome avocados
  • Explores animals, geography, science, the environment, human achievement and lots more
  • The perfect book for fans of Guinness World Records!

Whether it’s weird words, foul food, yucky creatures, or the world’s longest mazes, this 2022 children’s annual is sure to entertain!’

This series is a huge hit with my boys. This review copy was whisked out of my hands before I even got a chance to open the cover. Its punchy facts and bold photographs, combined with a healthy dose of humour, makes this a great choice for readers who find large chunks of text intimidating. A sure-fire hit under the Christmas tree this year.

Well I hope that your are now suitably inspired to head to your local independent book shop (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and make a start on your Christmas shopping!

Library Girl.

*Many thanks to the publishers who sent me these titles to review*

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