November is the month in which UK books celebrate ‘Non-fiction November’ which is sponsored by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups. It is brilliant to see the resurgence of interest in this area and also the development of some truly excellent publishers, bringing new ways of presenting information to young readers.
“Frida Kahlo” by Lucy Brownridge and Sandra Dieckmann is a wonderful evocation of the artist’s life and art, aimed at younger children. I have loved her work for a long time, but seeing the exhibition about her life at the V&A in 2018 really brought home how amazing she was. This book mentions her health issues but does not go in to tremendous detail, rather it focuses on her development as an artist and the influence she has had outside Mexico. Sandra Dieckmann has done a tremendous job with the illustrations, bringing her own touches to the work whilst also paying ‘homage’ to Kahlo’s own style. This will make a tremendous addition to any primary school.
“I’m not (very) afraid of the Dark” by Anna Milbourne and Daniel Rieley is a delightful look at coping with a fear of the dark. The young hero finds that he is a ‘bit’ afraid of the dark because of the shadows and various sounds that he cannot identify. So when his father takes him on an overnight camping trip he is really worried by the idea of the dark. However he has a revelation when it is truly dark; for it is then that he can really see all the stars in the night sky. This is a story of finding the beautiful and positive in something that we are not sure about and it is great for young readers. There are lovely illustrations and a really imaginative use of cutouts in many of the pages, which brings everything to life.
“The Usborne book of Night time” by Usborne and Bonnie Pang is aimed at younger children, perhaps up to lower KS2. It takes the concept of night and then gives us a double page spread to look at the various elements that make up the night. There are factories and cities, the sea and the sky, nocturnal animals, northern lights and different parts of the world; all of these are working while we are sleeping. This is a great introduction to understanding our world and can lead on to some really fascinating discoveries for the young readers.
“Apes to Zebras” by Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens is a collection of poetry, but importantly it is an A-Z of shape poetry. I think most of us find writing poetry quite challenging, so to find that these poets have created stunning work and all in the shape of various animals is quite amazing. The layout of the book and the simple use of colour really helps the words and shapes stand out but it is the imagination of the writers that really makes this book so stunning.
“Boy oh Boy” by Cliff Leek and Bene Rohlmann is a look at 30 men, both living and dead, who have had an impact on the way that we look at men and our expectations of them. Many of these people are household names, but others have not made headlines outside their immediate areas, yet they have had an effect on the way that people think and behave and they have even changed the laws of the land. These people are from around the world and from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds, which shows that everyone has the potential to be great. The illustrations are very bright and strong and are somewhat 1950s in style, making the work stand out from others. After so many books about strong females recently it is good to see a book that looks at broadening the range of biographies.
“The book of Big Science Ideas” by Freya Hardy and Sara Mulvanney is an introduction to many different concepts that we find in science. The book is divided into different subject areas and gives us a double page spread of ‘big thinkers’ in that area and then it looks at the development of our knowledge. Subjects covered vary from the periodic table, animal classification, and astronomy to computers, big data, and renewable energy. Whilst this does not have an index it does have a good glossary which will help the readers understand the new terms thy come across.
I am looking forward to investigating some more new information books when I make a visit to Peters booksellers next week. I am sure that I will see some wonderful books and hope to tell everyone about them very soon.