Newest Children's Non-Fiction Reviews

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This Cookbook is Gross by Susanna Tee and Santy Gutierrez

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The misuse of language is a modern disease. Too many times something is described as awesome or stupendous, but were you truly awed by it? Or stupefied? People just seem to pluck words out of the ether and pretend that they are the correct ones. Are the recipes in Susanna Tee and Santy Gutierrez's 'This Cookbook is Gross' truly gross? For once the language is not overplayed. These recipes may taste nice, but in appearance they are absolutely vile. Full review...

Jojo's Guide to the Sweet Life by Jojo Siwa

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

JoJo with the Bow Bow has written a Book Book! And without meaning to sound like my expectations were low, it was surprisingly good. I say this because we know JoJo as the girl from Dance Moms with the outspoken mother (well, one of the outspoken mothers) who is known for her dancing and the big bows she wears, more than for her brains. And yet this book shows us another side, a side in which she is an articulate, insightful and intelligent young woman. Full review...

Stupendous Science by Rob Beattie and Sam Peet

5star.jpg Popular Science

Education should be fun. We learn best when we are engaged with practical, enjoyable tasks. That's the secret behind the experiments in Stupendous Science. They have the fun element, the 'wow factor,' and most importantly, can be easily replicated with items that are readily available in the home. Each experiment teaches an important scientific concept; essentially teaching through play. Full review...

Optical Illusions by Gianni Sarcone and Marie Jo Waeber

5star.jpg Popular Science

I used to work as a library assistant and I remember arriving to work one morning to find all of my fellow librarians crowded around a book, chattering excitedly and...squinting rather oddly. The book was called Magic Eye and promised a magical 3D viewing experience if you looked at the psychadelic pictures in a certain way. For a brief period in the early 90s, the pictures had a sudden spike in popularity, until everyone presumably got eye strain and went back to their everyday lives. Well good news Magic Eye fans! The pictures are back (albeit only two images), in the engrossing and immersive new book Optical Illusions. Full review...

Make and Play: Nativity by Joey Chou

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I always feel a slight disappointment for children at Christmas when they're presented with a tree to decorate with a box of ornaments and a nativity scene (sometimes quite precious, so it's Not To Be Played With) which is set up Somewhere Safe. Where's the imagination, the creativity, the sense of pride in that? How much better to have a child create their own nativity scene, which they can then play with? That's exactly what they get with Joey Chou's Make and Play Nativity. Full review...

50 Things You Should Know About the Vikings by Philip Parker

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The Vikings have got a lot to own up to. A huge DNA study in 2014 was the first thing that proved to the Orkney residents that they had Viking blood in their veins – they had been insisting it was that of the Irish. The Vikings it was that forced our English king's army to march from London to Yorkshire to kill off one invasion, only to spend the next fortnight schlepping back to Hastings to try and fend off another – and the Normans had the same Norse origin as the first lot, hence the name. There is a Thames Valley village just outside Henley – ie pretty damned far from the coast – that has a Viking longship on its signpost. Yes, they got to a lot of places, from Greenland to Kiev, from Murmansk to Turkey and the Med, and their misaligned history is well worth visiting – particularly on these pages. Full review...

Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures: Step Into a Prehistoric World by Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

You might think, what with books about dinosaurs being just as varied (and almost as old) as dinosaurs themselves, that there was little to say about them that hadn't been said, and few new ways of giving us information about them. Well, I would put it to you that this is a novel variant. Over many jumbo spreads, we get a different dinosaur in a different situation each time, whether it be being born, being slain or learning to fly, and the book gives us all the usual facts, not in chronological order, nor in some other more spurious fashion, but grouped by where these dinosaurs lived. The continent-wide chapters have several entrants in each, and what with the book hitting all corners of our current globe, it brings the world of dinosaur remains right to our door, and makes this old subject feel remarkably new… Full review...

Pirates Magnified: With a 3x Magnifying Glass by David Long and Harry Bloom

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

It's becoming easier and easier to spot books for the young about pirates – that surely is about the only career from the seventeenth century that gets so many volumes produced about it. It must be a combination of the derring-do, the illegality, and of course the fancy dress and silly speak that appeals – nowhere else would you see a youngster studying one country's attacks on another, and reading about how treasures, slaves and other resources changed hands. This volume, however, tries its best to stand out, and has adopted the equally prevalent concept of getting the reader to pore over large dioramas to seek the small detail hidden in the images. For once, though, there's a thoroughly educative reasoning behind it. Full review...

Build It! 25 Creative STEM Projects for Budding Engineers by Caroline Alliston

4star.jpg Popular Science

Build It! 25 Creative STEM Projects for Budding Engineers takes a strictly hands-on approach to science to show how scientific ideas can be applied to real-world situations. The book contains 25 projects with varying degrees of complexity to demonstrate topics such as air travel, programmable machines, light, motion and electricity. The book is designed with the younger scientist in mind, so there is a focus on the fun aspect, with many of the projects involving toys. Full review...

We Travel So Far by Laura Knowles and Chris Madden

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The lead singer of Foreigner said I've travelled so far to change this lonely life. Well, he's gone nowhere in comparison to many of these creatures, who probably wouldn't call their life lonely, either. Masses of animals gather, herd, school, and fly in unison, and all make their migration to change their lives. Some hide from the danger of winter storms, many seek the food they need before hibernation or their first meals after breeding, some just trot up a volcano to lay eggs in the one place they know will keep them warm. It might seem to be an unusual approach – having a sparsely-texted book solely about one aspect of animal nature, but on this evidence it's an approach that certainly works. Full review...

13½ Incredible Things You Need to Know About Everything by DK

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Having the Internet in the home for a child to learn from is all well and good, but it won't replace an encyclopaedia. For one thing, there definitely is an instance of having too much of a good thing – it is no use for the young mind to be exposed to every bit of knowledge we may have amassed. No, you need someone authoritative enough to come along and collate the important bits, letting you learn just enough, and the key things you do need to know, all from one place. This book doesn't really term itself as an encyclopaedia, that has to be said, but its large format puts it on the shelf next to them, and its colourful and educative mien proves it's a very close relative, at least of the modern kind. What it has decided to do is to structure the world into certain subjects, and to give us 13½ facts regarding every topic. And what a diverse range of topics it has amassed. Full review...

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Animals by DK

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The animal kingdom is a diverse one, full of creatures that do all sorts of things. The number of animals out there is so vast that even vets need to do a quick google when something strange appears in their practice. For budding vet-to-be animals are a constant source of fascination and they will absorb as much knowledge as you can give them. It is not practical to visit the zoo every day, but getting an educational and entertaining animal encylopedia is. Full review...

DK Children's Encyclopedia by DK

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

More than sixty years ago my grandparents bought me an encylopedia: it was a major purchase for them as they didn't really do books, but it was a treasure trove for me and I still have it today. It didn't just teach me facts - it taught me how to find out information for myself and how to use an index. It opened my eyes to subjects I'd never considered and widened my knowledge on those I already loved. In format, in size and content it was very similar to DK Children's Encyclopedia and I can imagine a younger me hunched over it and begging just to be allowed to finish this bit before I went to bed. Full review...

Life on Earth: Dinosaurs: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps! by Heather Alexander and Andres Lozano

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I was a big fan of dinosaurs when I was a nipper. Since then the science regarding them has evolved leaps and bounds. We've got in touch with them perhaps being feathered, and have assumed colours and noises they made – we can even extrapolate from their remains what their eyesight, hearing and so much more may have been like. But science will never stop, and the next generation will need to be on board with the job of discovering them, analysing them, and presenting them to a world that never seems to get enough of the nasty, superlative beasties of Hollywood renown. As you're the kind of person to ask questions, you may well ask 'how do you get that next generation ready for their place in the field and in the laboratory?' I would put this as the answer – even if it is made itself of a hundred questions. Full review...

Life on Earth: Jungle: With 100 Questions and 70 Lift-flaps! by Heather Alexander and Andres Lozano

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

We're constantly being asked to save something. Save the hedgerows, save the elephant, save our seas. There's absolutely nothing wrong with any of those goals – some of them are larger than the others, and more demanding, but they are all worthy. But seeing as it's (a) the largest land feature we need to save, and (b) it's the most worthwhile to save, why not just go for the jugular – and try and save the Amazonian rainforest? Forget jugular, you'll be saving the jaguar; you'll be protecting the source of a lot of our food, spices and medicines – and when did a hedgerow near you have almost fifty different species of ant on a singular tree? The first step to saving anything is to understand it, to let us appreciate it, and this primer is how we get in touch with what's important about jungles so we can deem them worthwhile. Full review...

Iggy Peck's Big Project Book for Amazing Architects by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Out of all the things I wanted to be as a child, an architect was not one of them. Which is a shame, perhaps – I might have had a few Prince Charles-friendly ideas under my belt, and even if I hadn't exactly progressed at that I might have been more at ease at those stupid team-bonding 'build-a-this-or-that' exercises you are sometimes forced to undergo as an adult. I never knew I would ever hold any importance in my ability to draw buildings, conceptualise towns and create model structures of my own creations – partly because I knew I had no ability. But for the likes of Iggy Peck, the whole idea is never in doubt – he spends his entire time thinking of buildings and how to improve on the ones he knows. And so, for the duration of your engagement with these pages, will you. Full review...

My First Wild Activity Book by Isabel Otter and Maxime Lebrun

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

You sit down together as a family and ask your child what they would like to read from your bulging bookcase. Will they choose the timeless classic that you yourself read as a child? Perhaps they will pluck for a modern tale with its dayglo colouring and storyline based around pants? Nope. Neither of these. All you will hear is Stickers! Your child would rather play with a sticker activity book than read with you, so best make it a worthwhile sticker activity book. Full review...

Scientist Academy: Are You Ready For the Challenge? by Steve Martin and Essi Kimpimaki

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Kids seem to have an innate curiosity about the world around them. They are constantly asking How? and Why? Curious kids and budding scientists are going to love the new Scientist Academy book by Ivy Kids, which is filled with practical experiments and fun activities with an educational twist. Full review...

The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Unicorns and Rainbows by Rebecca Jones

5star.jpg Crafts

I've a problem with many colouring books for children: some initial effort goes into the colouring, but the chances are that little will be kept on a long-term basis and it's not particularly satisfying. How much better would it be if the colouring produced something which could be sent to someone else, who would appreciate that it's unique and that effort and care has gone into the card? How much better to give a child something like The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Unicorns and Rainbows than an ordinary colouring book which will soon be discarded? Full review...

Wilfred and Olbert’s Totally Wild Chase by Stephan Lomp

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Meet Wilfred and Osbert. They're not only the kind to completely flout the rules of the natural history explorer's club they belong to, but when they both spot an undiscovered butterfly together, they are the kind to fight tooth and claw to be the first to lay claim to it alone, and devil take the other one. What they don't know is that the drama that ensues when they're tailing this particular specimen will involve no end of peril – nearly drowning, almost being eaten by a lion, crashing a hot air balloon one of them just so happened to have in his pocket… This, then, is a fun and silly biology lesson – but that's only the best kind, surely? Full review...

Hidden World: Forest by Libby Walden and Stephanie Fizer Coleman

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Sometimes, less is more. But a wood doesn't understand that, does it – it just stretches on and on, expanding outwards and outwards, and upwards and upwards – it's quite a galling thing for a young person to understand. This book reverts to the very basic detail that will let the very young student get a grip on the life in the forest, whether they can actually see it for the trees in real life or not… Full review...

Time Atlas: An Interactive Timeline of History by Robert Hegarty and Marcelo Badari

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

While it's always useful for a child to have access to an atlas, so they know where they are and what there is in every other location, it's equally important that they know when they are, and what has happened at any other place in time. That's the ethos behind this Time Atlas, which only has a few spreads, but takes us right back to prehistory, through the birth of civilisation, and up to today – as well as asking a few questions of what might happen in the future. It is, after all, vital we know not only where we are, but where we may be going… Full review...

Festivals and Celebrations by Sandra Lawrence and Jane Newland

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Every day is a feast day, if you follow the Christian calendar very closely – there are probably enough saints now for each day to have about three people attributed to it. But that's just one religion, one way of thinking, one culture – the world is host to a whole lot more, and in every corner they have their own way of celebrating. Some poignantly light small fires and set them afloat to guide the visiting spirits of the deceased back to their post-life homes; some rejoice in the return of spring, or the bounties of the summer's harvest; some just throw crap like tomatoes or coloured water over each other. But the world has a ritual calendar of events such as these, and this is a brilliant book for the young that shows how diverse our celebrations can be. Full review...

Myths and Legends by Sandra Lawrence and Emma Trithart

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Mythology is a peculiar realm, when you think about it – not quite legend, and not just the religions of the dead civilisations, but something like a mixture of the two. Certainly some of the entries in this pleasant little read hit on legend – King Arthur, Robin Hood – but we also seemed to believe they were true, even if they didn't fit into any pattern of organised worship. But seeing as it is the gospel truth that people lived by these mythologies, it's vital for the young to have some grounding in the subject, and this book is pretty good at providing such. Full review...

Dinosaur Detective's Search-and-Find Rescue Mission by Sophie Guerrive

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

This is a horrific world. Monsters leer over all the mountain tops, there's a giant octopus in one building and a green giant's arms coming through the windows of another, and everywhere you look someone has lost something. Luckily the Dinosaur Detective is on hand to help. Yes, despite his paws looking incredibly ungainly on the controls of his flying machine, he is able to visit all eleven zones, and find the five things requested of him in each. But can you? Full review...

Girling Up by Mayim Bialik

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Aimed at teenagers, this book focuses on growing up as a girl, or Girling up if you will, and what it means to transition from school girl to grown up, via that hideous detour of teenage years. Full review...