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.

In Focus: Forests

In Focus: Forests
Libby Walden et al
360 Degrees (Little Tiger Group)

Ten exciting illustrators showcase some of the world’s most famous forests in this smashing book that’s been put together under the stewardship of Libby Walden.

Herein is a wealth of information about the natural flora and fauna of these stunning green places as well as associated facts on such things as, in the first and hugely biodiverse location – The Black Forest – things to do, the Brothers Grimm and more. Grace Easton is the illustrator of this place.

Gate fold flaps are employed by each artist, the second being Julie Colombet who explores The Anatomy of Trees;

Suzanne Washington takes us to the Rainforests; with the artistic work of Sol Linereo we visit National Parks.

Stephanie Fizer Coleman dives deep to the Kelp Forests to show us the sea otter and many more amazing inhabitants.

Forest Mythology is the next focus, illustrated by Irene Montano;

the Amazon Rainforest wherein we ‘meet two famous British naturalists, is illustrated by Marc Pattenden;

Alfred Wallace & Henry Bates

Alessandra Santelli portrays peoples of the Forest; Aaron Cushley, Mangrove Forests and the final topic is Produce and Preservation (including the tree hugging, Chipko movement) illustrated by Jenny Wren.

Each spread is totally absorbing and the entire chunky volume is sure to draw you in to what are probably my favourite places – forests – and hold you there for a considerable time.

When the Stars Come Out

When the Stars Come Out
Nicola Edwards and Lucy Cartwright
360 Degrees

With the coming of darkness, everything looks different, everything feels different: night is mysterious, night is magical.

Find out what makes it so in When the Stars Come Out.Into this book the author has packed illuminating information explaining first how night works due to the constant orbiting of the sun by planet Earth, and then putting mankind’s desire to understand the night into a historical context that can be traced right back as far as the Bronze Age.

Thereafter comes an upward-looking section called The Sky at Night. This encompasses topics such as being scared (or not) of the dark and things associated with it;

some facts about the Moon – its cycle, Armstrong’s moon landing and more. Did you know that the largest stars burn for tens of millions of years before running out of energy whereas medium-sized ones including our sun can continue burning for 10 billion years. WOW!

Moving our sights down somewhat, The Earth at Night homes in on different environments – the city, the desert, the Amazonian rainforest, the mountains,

the African savannah where should you happen to visit and listen very carefully, you might just hear the squeaks of yellow-winged bats, the slithering scraping of rock pythons or even the defensive growls of aardwolves. The woodland and the ocean also have spreads allocated.

The next focus is on what animals get up to at night – how are they adapted? Did you know that there are creatures that can sleep on the move, for instance the Swainson’s thrush which power naps frequently, and the albatross? We’ve all heard of sleepwalking but sleep-flying –awesome!

Although many humans spend the night (or most nights) in sleep, or attempted sleep, the length of this depends upon where on the globe you happen to be at a particular time of year; or perhaps whether you are attending an occasional night celebration such as New Year’s Eve.

Like all living creatures, we humans have a body clock, though ours with five sleep cycles, is far more sophisticated that say plankton. I was interested to learn that there is no word for insomnia in the languages of the non-industrial societies – the Hadza people of Tanzania, the San people of Namibia and the Tsimane people of Bolivia whose general pattern of sleep is from three and a half hours after sunset to just before sunrise, with no daytime naps.

Nowadays, those of us living in the Western world tend to choose a single overnight sleep, although some who help keep the night-time economy afloat such as bakers, as well as for instance hospital staff, carers and the police work in shifts and sleep during the day.

Nicola Edwards’ fascinating and wide-ranging interpretation of night is well served by Lucy Cartwright’s enthralling, richly detailed illustrations.

A book to keep readers awake at night should they start exploring it late in the day.

Foods of the World / Transport and Travel

Foods of the World
Libby Walden and Jocelyn Kao
Transport and Travel
Sandra Lawrence and Jem Maybank
360 Degrees

Aimed primarily at KS2 (7-11) readers these are two of the Mini Hardback series, neatly packaged, alluringly illustrated with spreads playfully subtitled..
In the first book Libby Walden takes a broad view of what we eat, rummaging around in kitchens around the world and unearthing all manner of diverse and delicious dishes and tasty treats, from tagines

to turnips – albeit ones used as lanterns in Richterswil near Zurich in November,  shark meat (served in Iceland as Hákarl) to strudel, cannali to chewing gum and bubble gum – yes even those are included, despite having no nutritional value, on account of needing to be chewed.

In addition to the vast array of culinary delights, readers can find out about unusual utensils and absorb a range of fascinating food-related facts.
Cooking techniques too are covered, (my favourite of those here is the tandoor used in Indian cuisine).

So too are food terms, in particular those coming from the French language.
There’s also a look at the notion of ‘good manners’: not finishing everything on your plate is impolite in China, while Middle Eastern (and also in my experience, on the Indian sub-continent) people often eat with their fingers, but it has to be the correct (right) hand; to use the left hand would be a faux pas.
When you travel abroad are you a person who relishes the thought of sampling the cuisine of the country you’re visiting or do you seek out places to eat that serve as nearly as possible what you’re used to at home.
I’m one of the former although in some places it’s less easy to find suitable eating places since I’m a vegetarian who also tries to avoid anything dairy so I eagerly devoured this book. So too will young readers who enjoy a good nosh.

Fascinating factual Transport and Travel related snippets are presented in the second title, some historic, some present day and one or two. looking to the future.

Moving around on land, through water, in the air, under ground and undersea are all covered though the book is divided into four main parts: travel on wheels, on rails, through the air and water.

We’re given a look at the great lengths people all over the world have gone to in order to get from one place to another as effectively as is humanly possible. Inviting illustrations offer readers a passenger’s eye view of such diverse modes of transport as tuk-tuks,

a gondola, a life boat, a bi-plane and a bicycle. What’s your favourite means of travelling?

Wonders of the World

Wonders of the World
Isabel Otter and Margaux Carpentier
360 Degrees

The world is a truly amazing place and its wonders, some of which were formed naturally and others made by humans, are really a sight to behold. In this book author Isabel Otter and illustrator Margaux Carpentier present them for us all to see and appreciate without even moving from our seats. Better still is being able to see them with your own eyes but I as a fairly well travelled individual have visited only two of them, India’s Taj Mahal

and The Colosseum in Rome and some of them I think are no longer in existence.

In all we pay a vicarious visit to twenty one wonders thanks to the stand out bright images, descriptive text and lift-the-flap details.
We’re shown seven ancient wonders including the Temple of Artemis in Turkey, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Hanging Garden of Babylon.

Look out for the wheel feature on this page.

Those representing the modern world include the Great Wall of China, which was actually started in 221BCE and said to be the longest structure ever built by humans, having grown over 2000 years to it enormous present (21,196km) length.

Sadly of those presented on the final spread of Natural Wonders one, the Great Barrier Reef, is in great danger on account of global warming caused by we humans.

Each of these wonders could be a starting point for further exploration by interested readers and the whole book would make a great discussion topic with groups or individuals presenting their particular favourite to the rest of the class.

I personally would love to see those Hanging Gardens but there isn’t any chance of that since no trace of them has ever been found. Instead I’ll just have to do with imagining them.

Holes

Holes
Jonathan Litton and Thomas Hegbrook
360 Degrees

According to the Oxford English Dictionary Jonathan Litton quotes at the beginning of this large format book, a hole is ‘a hollow place in a solid body or surface’. It then goes on to say ‘they are both something and nothing” – paradoxical hmm?

All manner of hole-related topics from caves to nostrils, and phloem to philosophical ideas are covered, the information being gathered under five main headings: Natural Holes, Manmade Holes, Animal and Plant Holes, Philosophy of Holes and Ordinary and Extraordinary Holes – the result, author Litton tells us in his introduction of ‘squirrelling and hoarding’ lots of kinds of hole ideas in a huge hollowed out hole. I like that notion.

The rest of the text is equally engaging as well as highly informative. I learned a new word – spelunker – meaning people ‘who visit caves, but without proper training’ – on the second spread.

The second theme, ‘Manmade Holes’ includes mines, wells and boreholes, tunnels and subways

as well as subterranean living, secret holes and buried treasure.

I enjoyed too, the idea of earth being like a ‘Swiss cheese under our feet!’ and I know many children will giggle at the mention of ‘bottoms’, which are included as an example of the location of holes within animals.
The topic of plant holes particularly fascinates me and there’s a spread devoted to some of the ways plants use holes.

Thomas Hegbrook has done a sterling job in providing illustrations for all the themes making every spread an invitation to delve deeper.

With its die-cut cover, the whole is a veritable treasure trove of holes, to be dipped into and rooted around in: you never know what you might find, but as the author says in his finale, what he’s covered herein is just a small sampling of a ‘hidden wonderland’; the rest is awaiting our discovery. I know I’ll never take a walk and think about what I see in quite the same way, having read this book.

Happy hole exploring.

Humanatomy: How the Body Works

Humanatomy: How the Body Works
Nicola Edwards, George Ermos and Jem Maybank
360 Degrees

Ever wanted to go beneath your skin and get right up close to your inner workings? If so, then this is definitely the book for you.

Tucked inside the front cover is a flip-over section comprising eight superb labelled illustrations, one for each of the body’s systems

excluding the endocrine, immune and reproductive systems.

The main part of the book contains an introductory page followed by a brief explanation of how the systems work together; and then detailed chapters on each of those systems, the first being the integumentary system.

Like the chapters that follow, it begins with a short overview of the functions and other fascinating facts; and then goes into detail using questions that immediately draw the reader in. Questions such as ‘Why do we have different shades of skin and why do some people have freckles?’ ‘Why do your hands go wrinkly in the bath?’ or, ‘How does skin heal itself? And what are scabs and scars all about?’

Next comes the muscular system, followed by the skeletal system that includes a labelled pictorial sequence of how a broken bone heals …

Thereafter we have the digestive system and then the respiratory system. I’ve no doubt children will delight in the ‘What is snot and why do we have it?’ paragraph and be fascinated to learn that the highest ‘sneeze speed’ on record is 165 km (103 miles) per hour.

The circulatory, nervous and urinary systems are equally fascinating. Did you know that blood makes up about 7% of our body weight? Or that lobsters have little urine nozzles under their eyes and communicate by squirting wee into each other’s faces – slightly off key but the sort of thing that children love to discover.

The final systems spread encompasses the endocrine, immune and reproductive systems.

And the last chapter (before the very accessible glossary) looks at DNA and what makes us who we are.

Altogether a fabulous publication. The writing is perfectly pitched for child readers, the production is excellent, as are the  illustrations by George Ermos and Jemima Maybank, it’s a book that deserves to be in every primary classroom collection and on every child’s bookshelf.

Story Worlds: A Moment in Time

Story Worlds: A Moment in Time
Thomas Hegbrook
360 degrees

Through this Perpetual Picture Atlas, Thomas Hegbrook takes readers on an amazing global trip that enables us to see, through a series of freeze frame images, what is happening all over the world – in thirty nine time zones – at precisely the same instant in July.

The first spread is a world map that shows and explains these zones and we can then begin our exploration at 6am on two minor outlying islands of the US with curlews taking flight, or perhaps join some children on their walk to school in Honolulu where it’s 8am. Alternatively by moving on a few spreads we find ourselves in the Amazonian rainforest in Brazil where it’s 2pm as it is in Havana, Cuba, in New York and at Angel Falls, Venezuela.

Start at the back and we pay a visit to a Delhi market place still busy at 11.30pm, or watch two boys play a board game in Bangladesh. In Samoa however, it’s 7am and we can share a family’s breakfast or watch children feeding the hens in Tonga. Meanwhile in London it’s 7pm and people are hurrying home from work, whereas across the channel in France it’s 8pm and some Parisians are relaxing with a drink.

The enormous variety of life both human and animal is amazing.

You can also choose to open the book right out and this provides opportunities for comparing and contrasting various parts of the world at a single glance, savouring being in the moment in up to a dozen locations simultaneously.

This fascinating volume (from a Little Tiger imprint) offers learning opportunities aplenty. I envisage groups of children lying flat out on a classroom floor, or sitting around a table with the book standing up, exploring, storying and excitedly discussing each of Hegbrook’s wonderful painterly spreads, all of which offer exciting viewpoints and different layouts. There is also a pictorial index giving a little additional information about the pictures.

Ingenious and absorbing, this is high quality non-fiction with a difference and deserves a place in every classroom collection and on family bookshelves.

I’ve signed the charter  

Hidden World: Ocean / 50 Wacky Things Humans Do

Hidden World: Ocean
Libby Walden and Stephanie Fizer Coleman
360 degrees

Essentially this is a visual exploration of living things that live beneath the ocean waves.
Six spreads present in turn Giants – some of the world’s largest creatures; Colourful Creatures; Hide and Seek – animals that camouflage themselves;

creatures that dwell on The Ocean Floor; Deep Sea creatures – those that live in the chilly, dark ocean depths and finally, The Coral Reef where sponges, corals, puffer fish, butterfly fish, clown fish and crabs can be found.
Each spread has six labelled flaps that open to reveal the creatures in their natural surroundings, and some brief factual information. I was amazed to discover that there are over 3000 different species of sea slug, for example.
With ecosystems such as coral reefs under threat from global warming, as well as being a fascinating book for young children, it’s also one that when shared with an adult, can open up discussions about the importance of protecting the crucial marine environments.
The book’s sturdy pages should help ensure that this resource can withstand fairly heavy handling from interested and enthusiastic youngsters.

50 Wacky Things Humans Do
Joe Rhatigan and Lisa Perrett
Walter Foster Jr.

Here we have a book that is full of fascinating facts relating to the weird and wonderful things our bodies do.
Each topic is introduced with an alluring title such as ‘Raisin Fingers’ (why our digits go wrinkly after a long time in the bath); ‘Rump Rumbles’ (there’s a lot of alliteration and wordplay in the headings);

Snot’s Amazing’ ;‘Black-and-Blue’ about bruising;

and ‘Be Flexible’. (It’s good to see yoga getting a mention here.)

Joe Rhatigan’s narrative style is chatty and designed to draw readers in, which it certainly does; and Lisa Perrett’s zany and colourful cartoons  add to the allure.
Most children are fascinated by their own bodies and what happens in and around them; and this unusually presented and arranged book on that topic will certainly both entertain and inform. It should also encourage young readers to value and respect their bodies, keeping them as healthy as possible.

Information Briefing:Bees, Gardening & Cities

What on Earth? Bees
Andrea Quigley and Paulina Morgan
QED
The author and illustrator of the latest in the ‘What On Earth?’ series offer a cross-curricular approach to a fascinating and vitally important insect, the bee.
It’s packed with fascinating information, interesting things to investigate, art and craft activities, poems, stories – I had a good laugh over the folk tale from Thailand telling ‘When bees were friends with elephants’; there’s even a recipe for delicious honey flapjacks – mmm!
Most pertinent though, since our native bees are under threat, are the projects which aim to increase potential nesting spots: for bumble bees ‘Make a bumble bee ‘n’ bee’; and ‘Build a solitary bee home’ for bees such as the leafcutter and mason bees to nest in.
Although each spread is chock full of information, the presentation with copious bright, attractive and sometimes amusing, illustrations, speech bubbles and factual snippets on bold colour blocks is never overwhelming.

This stylish book is certainly worth adding to a family book collection or primary school topic box.

The Children’s Garden
Carole Lexa Schaefer and Pierr Morgan
Little Bigfoot
This appealing story inspired by a real community garden for children in Seattle is a debut book for both author and illustrator.
A sign on the gate welcomes readers in to ‘listen, see, smell, touch – even taste’
and to read this book really does feel like a multi-sensory experience.
We start with the deep, dark soil, ‘rich with rotted grass, apple peels and onion skins,’ into which the children dig and then scatter their seeds. They pat, water …

and weed and soon are rewarded by the appearance of tiny sprouting plants.
It’s not long before the whole space is filled with a profusion of ‘tomato clusters’, ‘sunflower stands’, ‘green bean tents’, ‘strawberry clusters’ and more.

Peppermint to smell and chew.

A rich reward for their labours but also a place to have fun and to relax.

Imaginative language and bold, bright illustrations and splendid seed packet endpapers make this portrait of a bountiful co-operative gardening project a delight.
I’d like to think it will inspire adults to help youngsters seek out similar local projects or failing that, contemplate starting such an enterprise for children in their own neighbourhood.

In Focus: Cities
Libby Walden et al.
360 Degrees
You can be a globetrotter without moving from your sofa in what is very much a bits and pieces look at ten of the world’s most iconic cities – their culture, their character and their civilisations – landmarks and artefacts of cultures ancient and modern (largely hidden beneath the gate fold flaps).
Starting with New York, and encompassing Tokyo,



Paris, Rome, Moscow, Istanbul, Sydney, Cairo, Rio de Janeiro and London, each of the destinations has a different illustrator, ensuring that the diversity of the cities is heightened.
The author manages to pack a great deal of information into each fold-out spread so that readers will find themselves becoming engrossed in such unlikely topics as tulips and Turkish delight (Istanbul), or catacombs and cancan dancing (Paris).
An appetite whetter and an engrossing one at that!

I’ve signed the charter  

The River / Wilderness: Nature’s Wonders

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The River
Hanako Clulow and Patricia Hegarty
Caterpillar Books
‘In snow-capped mountains among the firs/ The north wind blows; something stirs./ Through icy water, a small fish darts -/ This is where her journey starts …
We join that shimmering, glimmering fish as she journeys down river starting from the snow-capped mountain peaks, swishing past dense mountain woods …

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and pine forests, through ever-changing landscapes as she travels by day and night …

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and through the seasons, on her epic swim to the vast, deep open sea ‘where she’s meant to be!’ – a sea populated by a shoal of sparkly fish.

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Readers delight in joining the fish on her journey, making her swim faster or slower by tilting and angling the book, viewing her as an ever-in-motion hologram (set inside the back cover) through a die-cut hole that keeps her, mid-stream, on every spread. Read it first to play with the fish and then turn back and re-read the whole, savouring Patricia Hegarty’s lyrical rhyming text and being spell-bound by the wonderful wildlife scenes rendered in soft, matte textured, illustrations. The richly detailed, painterly style shows feathers and fur as if close up …
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as well as the gorgeous hues of the surrounding flora of the landscapes.
What a superb testament to one particular river, and to the rich abundance of flora and fauna through which it flows and of course, to one little fish on its migratory journey. SO much to see, SO much to think about, SO much to relish.

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Wilderness
Hannah Pang and Jenny Wren
360 Degrees (a Little Tiger imprint)
Subtitled ‘An Interactive Atlas of Animals’ this has visual appeal in bucket loads and it’s highly informative too. It introduces readers to a variety of habitats in both Eastern and Western Hemispheres and then focuses on different habitats in turn allocating a double spread to each one. We embark on a tropical rainforest ramble (visiting various locations as not all the animals featured are found in the same part of the world),

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a safari in the hot grassy savannahs of Africa, join an ocean dive and search, visit a freshwater location, the desert dunes, polar regions and high mountain pastures and forests, complete with pop-up mountain …

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Snippets of information abound on every location spread and there are flaps to lift enabling readers to discover more about the various animals resting upon them; there are even mini booklets on Bugs, Creatures of the Deep, the Honeybee and the salmon life-cycle.

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There’s a tiny life-cycle book on the left …

So, we have some desert dunes populated by Arabian camels, Addax (rare creatures also called Screwhorn antelopes), a vulture, a Namib Dune Gecko, a rattlesnake that leaves tell-tale tracks in the sand, hairy, scary giant scorpions and tarantulas; and there’s a side wheel which when turned shows the enormous range of temperatures of the habitat. (sub zero at night and 45 degrees C at mid-day).

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Rotating wheel top left …

Chock-full of details, rich in the colours of mother nature’s palette, and sturdily designed and built to withstand frequent handling, this is one to engender a sense of awe and wonder about the natural world, and highly recommended for the family bookshelf and a must-buy for early years and primary school classroom.

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