Newest Children's Non-Fiction Reviews

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Krysia: A Polish Girl's Stolen Childhood During World War II by Krystyna Mihulka and Krystyna Poray Goddu

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Most of us would think of Polish children suffering in World War Two because of the Nazi death camps – they and their families suffering through countless round-ups, ghettoization, and transport to the end of the line, where they might by hint or dint survive to tell the horrid tale. But most of us would think of such Polish children as Jewish victims of the Holocaust. This book opens the eyes up in a most vivid fashion to those who were not Jewish. They did not get resettled in the Nazi Lebensraum, but were sent miles away to the East. Krysia's family were split up, partly due to her father being a Polish reservist when the Nazis invaded, and then courtesy of Stalin, who had signed a pact with Hitler dividing the country between the two states, before they turned bitter enemies. Krysia's family, living in the eastern city of Lwow, were packed up and sent – in the stereotypical cattle train – east. And east, and east – right the way across the continent to rural Kazakhstan, and a communal farm in the middle of anonymous desert, deep in Communist Soviet lands. Proof, if proof were needed, that that horrendous war still carries narratives that will be new to us… Full review...

Infographics: Technology by Simon Rogers

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As parents, we can often be bombarded with questions as our children start to discover the world. These questions soon become increasingly complex, especially with the latest technological advances. How do computers work? What's inside a smartphone? How can earth communicate with spacecraft? Thankfully we now have a handy, illustrated guide to help us: Infographics: Technology. Full review...

The Hello Atlas by Ben Handicott and Kenard Pak

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Sannu! Kina lafiya? That's how Azumi greets us in this book. He's from Africa, and he speaks Hausa. Do you? Don't worry if not, because you're about to learn. Full review...

Knowledge Encyclopedia: Animal! by DK

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The encyclopedia may be an informative type of book, but it's not always the most interesting. A series of dry facts plastered all over the page with nary an image in sight. This dry type of learning is never going to work with some of our modern youth, more used to spending time looking for imaginary animals on their phones, than researching real ones in a book. If you want to capture their attention, you must first draw their eyes. DK have attempted this in one of the most colourful and vibrant encyclopedias you are likely to see. Full review...

The Ultimate Book of Space by Anne-Sophie Baumann, Olivier Latyk and Robb Booker (translator)

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Space. For all the huge, empty expanse of it, it's a full and very fiddly thing to experience. The National Space Centre, in the hotbed of cosmology and space science that is Leicester, is chock full of things to touch, grip, pull and move around – and so is this book. It's a right gallimaufry of things that pop up out of the page, with things to turn and pull, and even an astronaut on the end of a curtain wire. Within minutes of opening this book I had undressed an astronaut to find what was under his spacesuit, dropped the dome on an observatory to open up the telescope, and swung a Soyuz supply module around so it could dock at the International Space Station. Educational fun like that can only be a good thing for the budding young scientist. Full review...

Incredibuilds: Buckbeak: Deluxe Model and Book Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The general perception is that to become a leading British actor, you need the fillip of Eton or somesuch education. But you don't have to be an actor to make a great film. Gravity for instance has extended scenes where the only thing natural is the performers' faces – everything else, even their bodies, was made in Britain by people using computers. The eight Harry Potter films, also made in the UK, needed a lot of computing power as well, but also a lot of craftsmen with their hands on tools and a keen eye. What better way to start training the young reader into that side of things, than with tasking them with making a, er, hippogriff? Full review...

Incredibuilds: Aragog: Deluxe Model and Book Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Aragog the giant spider, don't you know, took six man years just to build, and weighed a ton. After countless trial models and pieces of visual design work, he could finally be constructed, and he stretched across eighteen feet of the studio floor. Or, conversely, he is about seven inches long and seven wide, and you put him together in a day or two, for the cost of this book-and-gift set and some craft paints. Full review...

Incredibuilds: House-Elves: Deluxe Book and Model Set (Harry Potter) by Jody Revenson

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

How do you create a house-elf like Dobby? Well, you have a tennis ball on a string, and point actors so they look at it, and say their lines to a pretty-much empty space. You then film Toby Jones doing the elf's lines, and use that sound file and his facial expressions as basis for your CGI creation – the first major character to come from the digital realm in the Harry Potter films. You can throw in a few puppets, and now and again a gifted small person, particularly at the end of film #7… Or, of course, you can get this gift set, and press the wooden parts out, muckle them together – and lo and behold, a six inch tall Dobby for your windowsill. Full review...

Survivors: Extraordinary Tales from the Wild and Beyond by David Long and Kerry Hyndman

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

There can be few people who are not captivated by stories of survival - those people who by chance, through knowledge but mostly because of their strength of will, survive against all the odds. Survivors is a collection of such stories of people, some of whom knew that what they were doing was dangerous, but many are those who found themselves in situations which seemed impossible, but who didn't give up. The result is a wonderful mixture of the scariness of the peril and the glorious uplift of survival. It's insightful, inspirational and all absolutely true. Full review...

Atlas of Miniature Adventures: A pocket-sized collection of small-scale wonders by Emily Hawkins and Alice Letherland

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I've hardly ever had a trouser pocket big enough to cram a whole 'pocket-sized' book in, and while the book under concern here won't comply either, it's not far off. But it's an atlas – you know, one of those books that are usually clunky and huge, fitting awkwardly on the bottom shelf and taken out whenever some project or quirk of trivial life inspires a browse. But this is a special kind of atlas – it's a compendium of details, and very small details at that, of all the tiny things on our large planet. Full review...

Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

5star.jpg Confident Readers

There may be as many as 5,500 different species of mammal on our planet, but how many of those do we actually get to see and read about? 'Animal Books' are packed with cute pictures of tigers, elephants, monkeys and zebras, but what about their lesser-known neglected cousins? Don't they deserve a minute in the spotlight? Numbat, Solenodon, Zorilla, Onager and Linsang: Now is your time to shine! Full review...

Illuminature by Rachel Williams and Carnovsky

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Like Halley's Comet, I am allowed out once every 70 years, or so, for the night. On one such trip to the trendier side of London I was supping an ale in another Hipster Bar, but this one had a difference. The walls were covered in overlapping paintings of animals in different colours. So what? The trick was revealing said animals. The lights in the pub changed colour every few minutes revealing a different set of creatures that reacted to that colour. It was cool after a few shandies, but now you can enjoy this process sober in a new book all about using coloured lenses to find hidden animals. Full review...

Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

It is hard to imagine, but the original Gruffalo book came out almost twenty years ago. This is a franchise that just keeps rolling on. Certainly, you can buy the book or the sequel, but if you visit a shop you will find Gruffalo toys, cards, even egg cups. Each year brings with it a new idea of how to push the Gruf and pals. 2016 is the year of the recipe book, but will it live up to the quality of the original? Full review...

Highest Mountain, Deepest Ocean by Kate Baker, Zanna Davidson and Page Tsou

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The greatest thing a good library can do is lie in wait, holding the weight of the entire world on its shelves. Let alone all the imaginative fiction it can take guardianship of, it can also store a huge gamut of facts, opinions and true tales, transporting a reader when they choose to take a book down and read it wherever they want to go. This book is one of those that can take you places, too – 3.6 metres down into the earth, where a Nile crocodile might have dug itself to lay out a drought, its heart beating twice a minute; or to the hottest or driest, or most rained-on place. It can take you back to prehistory and size you up against the biggest raptors and other dinosaurs, or to the centre of the very earth itself. There the pressure is akin to having the entire Empire State Building sat on your forehead – now that's weight indeed… Full review...

Secrets of the Sea by Kate Baker and Eleanor Taylor

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

When the young are urged to explore the world around them, we adults never state it, but there's a huge section of the world they are quite unlikely to go investigating in. And for obvious reasons – it can be slightly dangerous even to enter it, and while it's huge it's not on every doorstep. I'm talking about the ocean, of course – which is where books such as this come in to explain and illustrate the topic. With so much of it to be researched and encountered, you never know – this book might well inspire a pioneering discovery some time in the future. Full review...

Press Out and Colour: Birds by Zoe Ingram

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Ten beautiful birds which start life as detailed line illustrations by Zoe Ingram are then coloured in by anyone of any age who is capable of having reasonable control of a felt-tip pen or a crayon. You've got to remember to do both the back and the front and whilst it would be nice if they matched it's in no way essential. If you're skillful, so much the better, but the designs are decorated with foil which catches the light and gives that sheen which you see on the edges of birds' feathers. When you've finished colouring you gently press the pieces out from the page. I experimented with pressing them out first and then colouring, but the pieces were easier to colour actually in the page. Full review...

Botanicum (Welcome To The Museum) by Katie Scott and Kathy Willis

3.5star.jpg Popular Science

Welcome to the Museum it says on the front cover and I'll admit that for the moment I was confused as I've never associated museums with living plants, but as soon as I stepped inside the covers, I knew where I was. One of the authors, Professor Kathy Willis is the Director of Science at Kew Gardens: she's undoubtedly based her thoughts on Kew, but for me I was back in the glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh - the glorious 'Botanics'. I'm not certain why we're supposed to be in a museum, unless it's that it allows us to refer to author Kathy Willis and illustrator Katie Scott as curators. Still it's a contrivance which doesn't affect the content. Full review...

My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Fairy Tales by Deborah Patterson

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Pity the child these days who never reads fairy tales. The irony in that, however, is that they may well be too busy watching Frozen on repeat to read fairy tales. But read them they should, in some form or another, and of one era or another. They don't all have to go back to the oldest collections, especially as they will like as not be more gory than what, say, Disney or Ladybird Books put out in our youth. They can read a fairy tale from any age, then – and when they're done, they can easily turn to this book, which provides more than enough impetus for you to write your own. Fairy tales do, as it happens, have the ability to last for centuries – but there's nothing quite like giving them a little tweak to get them up-to-date… Full review...

This Book Thinks You're a Scientist by Harriet Russell

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

This Book Thinks You're a Scientist takes children through a whole world of scientific areas: forces and motions, light, matter, sound, electricity and magnetism. It encourages children to look, ask questions and a have a go. This science-based activity book, published in association with the Science Museum, will stimulate and inspire young minds. Full review...

My Book of Stories: Write Your Own Myths by Deborah Patterson

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I don't know about you, but as a young child I was always looking ahead, not backwards. Musically, I could bear a few of my older brother's records, but wanted to know what was released next week, never what was in the charts of my parent's era. I think the same would have been said about my reading, and my interests – although that's only to a certain extent. I don't think I'd have thanked you for pointing to my dinosaur books, right next to my space and science fiction shelves, and I think I'd have preferred you to see the latest novel, rather than those books of myths I also enjoyed. Myths? They're, like, old. But they don't need much embellishment to be seen as great fun. The next step, however, to see them as something you yourself could write, well – that's a bit greater. But it's one taken by this book, nevertheless. Full review...

The Ultimate Peter Rabbit: A Visual Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter by Camilla Hallinan

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I had a deprived childhood: I never knew Peter Rabbit. He'd have been at about his half century by the time I could have been reading him, but books at home didn't go beyond Enid Blyton. Peter was drawing his old age pension by the time that I discovered him when my daughter fell in love with him and - in her turn - read them to her own children thirty years later. He's well past his century now and still delighting children of all ages: he's accessible and relatable and I can't recollect ever meeting a child who didn't have a soft spot for him. Full review...

My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things by DK

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Depending on the curiosity level of your child, you may start to hate the word why. Why is the sky blue? Why do some elephants have bigger ears than others? Why, why, why, why! I can suggest to most parents that they make something up that sounds vaguely intelligent. The problem is that kids are canny little things. So, rather than trying to download the entirety of the internet into your head, get your child their own first encyclopaedia, something like My Encyclopedia of Very Important Things. Full review...

Little People, Big Dreams: Amelia Earhart by Isabel Sanchez Vegara and Mariadiamantes

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Amelia Earhart was born just before the end of the nineteenth century but she would become the most famous female pilot of the twentieth, having first become interested in planes when she went to an airshow when she was just nineteen. Shortly afterwards a pilot gave her a ride in a biplane and from that moment on she knew that she had to fly. There had been precursors to this obsession though: when she was a little girl she like to imagine that she could stretch her wings and fly like a bird. Full review...

Peter in Peril by Helen Bate

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Meet Peter. He hasn't got a brilliant life, by modern standards – always getting into trouble, and playing some form of football with coat buttons, but with a loving nanny and parents. The trouble is that he is living in Budapest, and while Peter understands nothing about the outside world's problems as yet, he is about to see what happens when the Nazis take control. And, in these graphic novel-styled pages, so are we… Full review...

50 Things You Should Know About Space by Raman Prinja

3.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Space is a cold and desolate place, but learning about it does not need to be. Nothing else quite captures the immensity that is Space – all the stars and planets out there that could contain alien life. How can you capture this majesty and put it onto a page so that you inspire the youth of today to be the astronauts and astronomers of tomorrow? A series of dry fact is perhaps not the best option, unless they happen to be a very specific type of child. Full review...

This is Not a Science Book: A Smart Art Activity Book by Clive Gifford

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

This is Not a Science Book explores the often-overlooked link between science and creativity. This interactive book encourages readers to get cutting, glueing, twisting, colouring and shading in order to create a variety of at-home experiments that are as entertaining as they are educational. The activities are also perfect for a rainy day; making this book a welcome resource during the long (and often wet) school holidays. Full review...