Engineering for Babies, Economics for Babies / Little Adventurers Airport

Engineering for Babies
Economics for Babies

Jonathan Litton and Thomas Elliott
Caterpillar Books

There’s a brand new ‘Science’ title as well as a ‘Business’ one in the Baby 101 board book series.

In the first book, tinies can find out some of the different roles engineers perform be that making, problem solving , improving how things work or perhaps investigating health-related issues.

Some will make enormous things while others such as molecular engineers work with things that cannot be seen with the naked eye alone.

A molecular engineer and a chemical engineer at work

Maths and science are often used by engineers in the planning of their projects: to a considerable extent our futures are in their hands.

Economics looks simply at the development of trading from bartering/swapping to pricing and what might affect changes in prices.

Both titles end by asking ‘Can you be a little … ?’ with a final lift the flap surprise.

Thomas Elliott’s boldly illustrated, bright colourful scenes will help babies focus their attention on each spread.

Just right for kick starting your toddler’s interest in STEM topics.

Little Adventurers: Airport
Jonny Marx and Cinta Villabos
360 Degrees

There’s plenty to engage little minds, eyes and fingers in this large format board book with its busy airport setting.
We start in the check-in area then move through security all a beep with detectors and a buzz with gizmos.
From there it’s on to the departure lounge to wait until the flight is  at the gate and ready for boarding.

On board the plane we see things from inside – the seating and cockpit, as well as being able to view the take off.

The final spread has a gatefold that opens right out to show the passengers’ arrival, passage through passport control and airport exit.

Every spread has straightforward narrative information, questions to think about, flaps to explore, speech bubbles and a bottom border of four items to spot.

Fun, interactive and with lots of potential for language development, this will keep your little ones interested throughout and they’ll likely keep going back to join the jet-setting family on their journey.

A Clutch of Activity and Craft Books

Scratch and Learn: Space
illustrated by Victoria Fernández
Scratch and Learn: Animals
illustrated by Natasha Durley
Wide Eyed Editions

These are new additions to the series, both of which have seven interactive spreads and an attached stylus for young readers to do the scratching.

Each spread explores a different theme and in the Space title, these start with the Big Bang and the scratching reveals 10 galaxies. Then come a look at the solar system, the Moon, ‘Spacecraft’, which has the Space Shuttle as a featured image, a peep at life on board the International Space Station, an account of the life cycle of a star, and finally, a constellation map.

Spencer investigating the map

There are 10 ‘scratch and discover’ shapes to investigate with the stylus on every spread as well as a lead-in, easy to understand, factual paragraph (or two), clearly labelled objects and an additional ‘fact’ most in speech bubble form, for example ‘The light from the closest star still takes 4 years to reach us.’

The Animals featured in the second book come from different habitats around the world and as in the previous title, Lucy Brownridge supplies the succinct text.

Ten animals have ‘hidden’ themselves in each of Natasha Durley’s alluringly illustrated locations: the Amazon rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, the Sundarbans Mangrove forest, (between India and Bangladesh), the grasslands of the African Savannah, a coniferous forest of northern Canada, the arid Gobi Desert and Antarctica.

Both titles are appealing early interactive books that can be brought out anywhere especially on a journey or a rainy day.

The Mermaid Craft Book
Laura Minter and Tia Williams
GMC Publications

Prolific craft book creators, Laura and Tia have added a new title to their series, this time with a mermaid theme.
It’s filled with ideas for making things to use, things to wear and tasty things to eat.

Having provided a list of what is needed, the authors give step-by-step instructions for such diverse projects as creating a seashore garden, making aquarium puppets and a theatre to use with them,

and you can even bake a mermaid cake or throw an ‘under-the-sea’ party serving only sea themed food and serve up that cake then. Young merpeople will love it.

Youngsters will also be enthusiastic about the book as a whole though they’ll require adult support with several of the activities.

Ancient Egypt Adventure Activity Book
illustrated by Jen Alliston
Button Books

Historical fun aplenty Ancient Egyptian style is found in this activity book.

Little ones can immerse themselves in the world of mummies, pyramids, pharaohs, hieroglyphics and ancient gods as they engage in mask making, maze manoeuvring, maths, message decoding, crafty creations, unscramble muddled up words and more. There are more than 100 activities in all as well as 4 pages of stickers to use to complete some of the scenes.

While engaging in these activities youngsters will likely learn some Ancient Egypt related language and facts too, as well as developing their fine motor and observational skills.

Jen Alliston has provided the illustrations and where relevant, answers are provided at the back of the book.

Why Do I Poo? / Freddie the Fox Feels Frightened

Thanks to Booklife Publishing for sending these: it’s always good to discover a new publisher.

Why Do I Poo?
Kirsty Holmes
Booklife Publishing

Bodily functions and in particular, poo, seem to hold an endless fascination for young children; mere mention of the word often elicits giggles among those in a reception class or nursery group; and with a cover like the one on this book, I’m sure it will arouse interest straight away.

Actually the whole book isn’t about poo; rather it offers a straightforward look at the workings of the human digestive system, (using a pizza as exemplar)

along with some other poo-related information such as that ‘poo gives off methane and that can be burned to produce power for our homes’, as well as powering buses. Also, animal poo is useful as a fertiliser for plants and, since it contains a lot of fibre, can also be made into paper – not human poo but that of sheep, elephants and even pandas.

After a look at other waste products we make,

there’s a spread on poo-related tummy troubles, as well as one inviting you to ‘rate your poo’ (using the Bristol stool scale). Don’t try that if you’re suffering from those tummy troubles though.

If your little ones are feeling quizzical, then they might like to try matching the poo piles to the four animals illustrated on the opposite page.

The book concludes with a glossary and index. Are you ready, steady, air freshener to hand? …

Freddie the Fox Feels Frightened
John Wood and Danielle Jones
Booklife Publishing

This is one of the Healthy Minds series aimed at the foundation stage and would work either shared at home or with a nursery group.

The author uses a narrative style to explore Freddie’s feelings on the evening before and morning of Freddie’s first day at school.

Despite Andy’s reassurances, Freddie goes to bed feeling frightened about what the next day might bring. So much so that he has a scary dream about being fired from a cannon, his fall being watched by countless pairs of eyes.

When the two leave for school, Freddie takes with him his comfort blanket and even so Andy is concerned that he looks rather unwell; he certainly feels that way on account of his fears of what might happen when they arrive.

His procrastinatory tactics take the two on a rather longer than expected route and during their journey Freddie talks more about his feelings.

Eventually the wet, muddy pair arrive just in the nick of time, with Freddie’s tail all a-tremble and his heart beating fast. Andy continues to reassure him as he opens the door

and following her instructions he counts to ten, looks around and very quickly finds himself absorbed in the children’s game.

With questions to ponder during the story and more to discuss afterwards, this book is, like Andy’s words to Freddie, a reassuring one to use with those soon to start school (or a nursery class). Danielle Jones’ bright, uncluttered illustrations show how both Freddie and Andy feel throughout and should help allay those pre-first day fears in little humans.

Suzy Orbit, Astronaut / Make & Play: Space / Balloon to the Moon

Here are three very different books all with a space theme:

Suzy Orbit, Astronaut
Ruth Quayle and Jez Tuya
Nosy Crow

Space engineer, Suzy Orbit lives with her boss, Captain Gizmo in a lunar space station.

One morning they learn that aliens have been spotted within range of their location and they need to act quickly to launch their space pod. The Captain orders one forthwith but it arrives without batteries and those the Captain has don’t fit.
Furthermore his shiny new space suit is way too small and as the aliens have by now arrived, it’s pointless trying to get a new speak-o-phone.

Happily though, the aliens are peaceable beings but they have bad news to share. Earth is about to be blasted by a meteor storm unless Suzy and her boss can stop it. No pressure there then.

Fortunately Suzy, with her tools always to hand, is an engineer extraordinaire and just happens to have a wonderful new invention ready and waiting. It’s as well that one of the team realises that it’s better to rely on ingenuity than ordering things on the net. Before you can say ‘blaster’ the two are heading out into the meteor storm with Suzy at the controls to do battle with those errant meteoroids. Can they save the day and see off the storm?

It’s great to see Suzy as a positive STEM character in the role of engineer/inventor in Ruth Quayle’s quirky tale. Jez Tuya’s bold illustrations show her as having determination and resourcefulness – exactly what’s needed in the face of the Captain’s lack of drive and inability to show any innovative aptitude.

Make & Play: Space
Joey Chou
Nosy Crow

The latest of Joey Chou’s Make & Play interactive activity book series is sure to please young space enthusiasts.
It contains eight pages of bold, brightly coloured, double-sided press-out play pieces that can be used to create a space scene (some have a hole to suspend with thread while others slide together to stand). The entire set would make a great diorama with space dogs, aliens, astronauts and spacecraft, though if desired, the pieces can be fitted back into the spirally bound book for safe keeping.

There are also other space-related activities – a fruit rocket made from fresh fruit pieces; a song to learn; a ‘blast-off rocket’ science experiment, alien models to create (they could be made into puppets perhaps) and more.
There are hours of fun to be had with this, whether used by an individual, or a small group of young children.

For older space enthusiasts is:

Balloon to the Moon
Gill Arbuthnott and Christopher Nielson
Big Picture Press

Rather than concentrating on the Space Race, this takes a historic look at the steps that began in the late 18th century with the Montgolfier brothers flight of a large unmanned balloon and led on to their sending a variety of animals skywards on a 3km flight three months later.

In the same year came the first manned untethered flight by inventor Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes who flew 8km in a Montgolfier balloon. Hot on their heels came the first woman to do similar, the following year (1784). There’s a whole spread given over to this balloon bonanza.

The narrative then shifts to the first half of the 20th century with a look at some aviation pioneers, followed by a focus on some iconic planes.

I was especially pleased to find some literary references on the opening page of the ‘rockets section’ where there’s a mention of both Cyrano de Bergerac and Jules Verne. The author uses numbers in her selection of what she includes so we have, for instance ‘8 Rockets’

and ‘Into the Unknown 7’. The seven referring to the seven animals that became the first astronauts; and this chapter cleverly links these with an explanation of g-forces and their relation to fighter pilots and astronauts.

Much of the remaining part of the book provides information on the endeavours of the US and the Soviet Union to win the space race; and what happened thereafter. In conclusion there’s a quick look at some of the new information the Apollo Moon flights gave us; what ‘space travel has done for life on earth’ and a final look to the future.

Christopher Nielson’s retro style illustrations are full of humorous touches adding to the allure of the book and the enjoyment of the whole narrative.

Animal vs Animal Who’s the Strongest? / Like a Lizard

Animal vs Animal Who’s the Strongest?
Kirsty Holmes
BookLife

Welcome to the ‘Great and Small Games’. Essentially this show (it’s one of a series) comprises three strength events: The Tree Trunk Lift; Strong Bug Circus and Tug of War, each of which is refereed by a flag-waving racoon.

The participants are, for the bug event, dung beetle and leafcutter ant; silverback gorilla and grizzly Bear are the tree lifters;


while in the third round, an African elephant and a musk ox tug it out.

Two spreads are devoted to each pair of contenders and as the animals are introduced and perform, snippets of factual information surrounds them on banners or in bubbles,

but it’s never overwhelming thanks to the design of the pages.

A fun way to learn some animal facts, this book should pack a powerful punch with younger readers.

Like a Lizard
April Pulley Sayre and Stephanie Laberis
Boyds Mills Press

Let’s get physical and in so doing, through Sayre’s playful rhythmic text and Laberis’ expressive digital art, learn about more than 25 different lizards and some of the things they do.

So, for instance, ‘Could you drape like a lizard? / Gape like a lizard? / Do a push-up like a lizard? Scale sticks? / Curl in like a lizard?’

Each of the lizards featured is labelled with its common name and described after the main text, in a paragraph below the named behaviour illustrated in the narrative. Every paragraph provides factual information – Latin name, where in the world it’s usually found, length and other interesting details specific to the creature.

So, after an initial read aloud, can your little ones behave like lizards as you share this engaging book? They’ll certainly have fun trying and learn some herpetological facts in so doing. I wonder what they might do in response to this  …

A Planet Full of Plastic

A Planet Full of Plastic
Neal Layton
Wren & Rook

Neal Layton has created an absolutely superb information book on a topic that’s on many people’s minds at present.

Right away he addresses the reader with ‘Quick question: do you ever think about what things are made of? ’ and goes on to mention other materials such as metal, wood, glass and paper before focussing in on plastic; plastic in all its shapes, colours and sizes.

We learn about the discovery of the material by chemist Mr Baekeland and how rapidly it became enthusiastically used in pretty much anything you might think of.

Plastic in the places it should be is all well and good, but the trouble is it doesn’t biodegrade and therein lies the problem. (Neal explains what this means with two sequences of strip pictures)

What eventually happens is that much of this plastic finds its way into our oceans

where it creates big problems for the marine animals as well as forming massive garbage patches in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, especially in the form of toxic microplastic particles.

All of us need to cut down on our use of plastic, especially that used only once,  is what we’re powerfully reminded here …

Neal’s narrative style is perfectly pitched for the intended audience – there’s not a scrap of preachiness about it – and his mixed media illustrations are a powerful reminder of the ubiquitous problems of plastic waste.

Children and young people care deeply about the environment as they’ve already demonstrated and the book concludes with a ‘How you can help section’.

If the government is really serious about the environment, and in particular the terrible effects of throwaway plastic, then perhaps they should fund a copy of this timely book for all primary schools and nurseries.

Can I Tell You About Nystagmus?

Can I Tell You About Nystagmus?
Nadine Neckles, illustrated by Vikas Upadhyay
Jessica Kingsley Publishers

I’ve only ever taught one child who had Nystagamus (due to his albinism). Now having read this excellent little book – the latest in the ‘Can I Tell You About series’, I feel ashamed about how little I really understood of the condition.

Herein a girl named Amber talks in a user-friendly manner about nystagamus -her ‘dancing eyes’, what this means for her in particular and about how she and other children with the condition will experience it differently, although they may share certain similarities such as taking longer to learn things. (This doesn’t mean they are any less clever than others however.)

We hear about Amber’s diagnosis (her eyes jiggle from side-to-side);

how she has to have regular eye check-ups; how she has to carefully adjust the way she sits to watch TV, preferably sitting right close to the screen; the need for her to wear glasses to prevent her ‘seeing double’ as she also has a mild squint.

Starting school presented a challenge for Amber especially the frenetic-seeming playtimes. Amber’s school has made accommodations for her condition such as adding yellow tape to the stair edges, doorframes and potential places of danger; and her mum explained nystagmus to Amber’s classmates.

When in the classroom she has a special place to sit, is never asked to share a book or computer screen and has work printed on coloured paper.

Reading itself brings its own set of challenges but again there are aids to make things less tricky for her. Depth perception is a particular challenge, so ball games, (and other things requiring rapid hand-eye co-ordination), gymnastics and running are ‘tricky’.

Of course frustrations occur but Amber’s friends are understanding and Amber herself is bold, intelligent and resilient, refusing to let nystagamus define her.

The book concludes with some information for adults, an outline of associated conditions, an important checklist for professionals, a glossary and a list of recommended resources.

Easy to understand, this book, (written by a special needs life coach and mother of a child like Amber, with nystagmus and Chromosome 18q) encompasses all the important aspects of nystagmus making it an ideal introduction for anyone wanting to learn more about the condition be they children, parents, carers, teachers, and other professionals. Line drawings by Vikas Upadhyay show Amber as the sparky individual the author presented.