There has been a wonderful array of brilliant non-fiction published this year and I’m delighted to share with you today some of my absolute favourites. While they explore a variety of topics what they do have in common is that they’re informative, engaging and feature marvellous illustrations.
‘Dosh,’ is one of those information books that all children (and probably a lot of grown-ups) need to read in order to make sense of something that has such a significant role to play in our lives. From the evolution of money to the practical side of how to earn it, this covers all of these areas in an interesting and thoughtful way. In the current climate, money is dominating the news and children are bombarded by alarming news of recession and predicted job losses, so this is a reassuring guide to learning how to budget and how to save for the future. I particularly love how it focuses on the positive ways we can give money away, focusing on famous philanthropists who choose to spend their money on charitable causes . Clearly laid out in an engaging and interactive format, it conveys a lot of important information in an accessible way. This is a must have for every child in your life and needs to be in every school library.
‘Building a Home,’ is a narrative non-fiction book that explores the renovation of an old building on the edge of town. In a world where shiny, new things can seem to reign there is real joy to be had from turning something unloved into something truly beautiful. Polly brilliantly explores all the different processes that take place during the restoration, looking at the army of people it takes to make this happen, from architects and foremen to carpenters and plumbers. Every job is valued no matter how small and I love how this book is effortlessly diverse, challenging stereotypes about the building trade and showing children that anyone can aspire to these roles. The illustrations are informative and vibrant capturing the busyness of the site and the complexity of the build in an easy to understand format. True to life, it does feature spreads with lots of tea drinking and waiting around for things to be ready. An absolute joy of a book which will appeal to curious children who are fascinated by building sites.
From houses that we see every day to exploring houses and habitats all around the world in, ‘The Homes We Build,’ offers a fascinating insight into how different the places we choose to live are depending on environment. How do you create homes that will adapt to extreme temperatures, challenging landscapes and varying resources. This book takes us on a journey around the world to discover the ingenious ways people have used in creating the most unusual and interesting homes. From underground villages, to towering skyscrapers and houses on stilts, there is so much to see and learn in this wonderful book. Stunningly illustrated this book is really absorbing, I was truly amazed and astounded by these brilliant and cleverly constructed homes. Living in a place where the climate is generally quite stable, it’s really eye-opening to see the challenges that people face when creating extraordinary homes for ordinary people.
How do you take something as uninteresting and dry as the periodic table and turn it into something children want to read? Well the answer is here you enlist the help of some famous people like Alice Cooper, Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain and a whole host of weird and wonderful characters both real and imagined. You then personify each element and present all of it’s key components using a mix of facts and infographics and boom just like that you have an engaging and entertaining read. Presenting complex information in an accessible way isn’t easy but this book accomplishes this brilliantly. I think the inclusion of an elemental ranking will really appeal to children, it gives it a kind of ‘Top Trumps,’ feel that would encourage children to discuss and share facts. I think it would make a useful addition to a classroom or school library.
I’ve noticed a real obsession for information books on vehicles and machines recently and I’m constantly searching for new additions for the library and. ‘The World’s Most Magnificent Machines,’ fits the bill perfectly. Featuring 32 of the best machines in history this is a more detailed and thoughtful exploration of machines, looking at those whose imaginations created these marvellous inventions. Featuring familiar inventions like the Titanic and Concorde, it also spotlights lesser well known machines the Gossamer Albatross and the Monowheel. It’s a real celebration of the creative minds who have continued to push boundaries in their quest to devise new and exciting machines. Exquisitely produced, each spread is filled with the most glorious illustrations that are bound to delight readers. A highly covetable and intriguing read.
‘A Train Journey,’ is in it’s construction alone is a thing of beauty, a real feat of paper engineering. This pop-up book takes the readers on a remarkable journey through history and across the world to find out more about the most magnificent trains ever to have been built. Starting with Stephenson’s Rocket revolutionary steam train and whizzing all the way over to Japan to meet the extraordinary record-breaking Shinkansen bullet train, this book tells us the most intriguing information. Discover how drivers and crew changed without stopping trains, how key features were inspired by nature and how feats of engineering have created the most safe form of transport. Delight in the glorious and intricate pop-ups whose illustrations are packed with the most fascinating details. An absolute must for train fans everywhere.
I’ve long been a fan of Professor Astro Cat’s information books and, ‘Deep-Sea Voyage,’ is no exception. Presenting bitesize chunks of information that children will find highly accessible and wonderfully compelling, each page also features striking and vibrant illustrations. Delve deep into the ocean alongside Professor Astrocat and explore places that have never been seen by the human eye because of it’s vast expanse. Uncover hidden mysteries and meet remarkable sea creatures as you explore the world’s waters. From sea slugs to bubble snails there is so many tiny and enormous things to discover in the dark depths. This book is brilliantly designed making it easy for children to dip in and out of and it’s clearly signposted to help them to seek out answers to their questions when they have a burning desire to find out for themselves. A perfect book for curious minds, this would make a wonderful addition to any school library or classroom.
Thank you to Big Picture Press, Faber, Flying Eye Books, Hachette, Laurence King, Polly Faber and Thames and Hudson books for sending me gifted copies of these brilliant books. All of these books are available to buy now online by clicking on the the title. If you can please support your local independent bookshop you can find your nearest one here.