Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner

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Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner

Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald
Reviewed by Lorraine McDonald
Summary: Colourful illustrations, interesting facts and some special surprises make this book an interactive treat. To share the secrets, shine a torch through the back of each page to reveal the animals, insects and plants that are hidden in and around an apple tree.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 36 Date: October 2013
Publisher: Ivy Press
ISBN: 9781782400684

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On a cold winter night, long after bedtime, what could be more inviting than curling up under the blankets with a book to read by torch light? What surprises might your torch reveal? In the case of ‘Secrets of the Apple Tree’ you may get more than you bargained for…

This factual book describes the flora and fauna in and around an apple tree. The illustrations are accurate and colourful. The text is interesting and informative. The simple, yet enchanting, concept that sets this book apart from other children’s non-fiction is that shining a light through the page reveals additional illustrations - the ‘secret’ hidden habitats of the apple tree. So the torch divulges a toad concealed in a pile of leaves, a caterpillar behind a leaf and bees in their hive, amongst others. This is a story in so much as each page has some sort of link to the next. This gives sufficient continuity to read out loud as a book to share. However, a child reading alone could dip in and out at their leisure and still learn and enjoy.

I must admit that I was extremely excited about this interactive book. When I received my copy, I couldn’t wait to grab a torch and assemble an audience. Luckily, it was soon dark so, with my little one, and his Daddy, sitting comfortably, I began to read. The magic faded slightly for me as I could clearly see the ‘secret’ without a torch as they are printed in black on the back of each page. Shining the light through the page allows both the illustrations front and back to be seen at once as the images are layered. Little one and Daddy got the full effect in their comfy seats even if I didn’t. There were some appreciative ooh’s and ahh’s but a few pages in the mood changed - what was this? Heckling! Could I go a bit faster please? Couldn’t the page be turned more smoothly? Waaah?! Well, I may have been playing to a tough crowd but they did have a point. It’s really awkward to hold the book, turn the page AND shine a light. Some spiral binding could help.

The ‘shine a light’ concept is a captivating idea. In practice, it’s a little clunky. This is forgivable though as the light shining turns reading from a passive to an active process which can only be a good thing. I can see that it may be enough to motivate a reluctant reader to pick up this book, learn something and then want to read some more. The interactive element of shining a light breathes new life in to the traditional printed form – though I can imagine an electronic version of this, it would have none of the charm and excitement of the paper copy. So, turn off your Kindle, grab a torch and snuggle under your duvet with ‘Secrets of the Apple Tree’.

If you want to enjoy more environmental interaction try The Big Green Book by Ian Winton and Fred Pearce.

Buy Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner at Amazon.com.


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