Shine, Star, Shine!

Shine, Star, Shine!
Dom Conlon and Anastasia Izlesou
Graffeg

This is the latest in the excellent Wild Wanderers series about various aspects of the natural world and it’s another wonderful book.

Deep in space from the heart of a nebula many stars are born: big stars and small stars each shining forth from millions of miles away across the universe, reaching out to us with their rays of colour. And so it is with our star, the Sun, enabler of life on planet Earth that shines down from 93 million miles away. She keeps us warm, causing changes in the weather; she makes the crops grow all over the world from Idaho to the Punjab, as well as all other planet life;

she pumps air from floating green ocean gardens giving rise to wind and creating clouds and sometimes, rainbows.
Beware though, sometimes the strength of her rays can cause damage for our star can also be a ‘world-burner’ but the world she reveals is mostly one of rich life and potential.

I love the way in which both poet author Conlon’s lyrical language and illustrator Izlesou’s atmospheric art both focus on this single star of ours, turning the otherwise ordinary into the truly extraordinary: truly a painting of words and pictures. Or rather a series of paintings that remind us of how our Earth moves around our Star and what that means for different environments; or shows the gradual change from day to night,

from season to season, through countless lives and trillions of years. It’s not until the final spreads that we are shown the night sky with its ‘trillions of stars with planets of their own whose stories are yet to be heard’. That too is something to ponder upon and perhaps dream about along with the small boy and the cat that we see throughout this powerfully beautiful book. It’s one that’s sure to provoke awe and wonder in young listeners.

Blow, Wind, Blow!

Blow, Wind, Blow!
Dom Conlon and Anastasia Izlesou
Graffeg

This is a new addition to The Wild Wanderers series.

Who wouldn’t want to be swept up in the breeze and follow Wind on a lyrical journey as it gains heat and strength from Earth and then continues on its way scattering ‘leaves like a sneeze’, moving on to turn Dutch windmills,

lifting up a balloon in Paris, travelling on across the still, quiet Pacific towards the deserts of Africa creating sandstorms in its wake as it goes on across the Atlantic, cyclonic now

wreaking havoc in Florida until, cooled by a cold blast from the Andes, Wind gradually calms, gently dispersing seeds

till finally it’s all blown out and ready to find a place to rest …

With its repeat refrain, ‘Go further, go farther / grow big and grow strong and / Blow, Wind, Blow!’ readers and listeners are treated to an exhilarating worldwide adventure related through Dom Conlon’s poem that in combination with Anastasia Izlesou’s powerful images of the elemental force and the consequences of its movements, create a mesmerising fusion of art and science.

Youngsters will love joining in the words that urge Wind to go, blow or slow in this book that has great classroom potential, but first and foremost share it for its own sake.

Swim, Shark, Swim!

Swim, Shark, Swim!
Dom Conlon and Anastasia Izlesou
Graffeg

In the second of this Wild Wanderers series we join Shark – a blacktip reef shark – in an exploration that takes him on a long, long journey through the oceans of the world searching for a home. Seemingly it’s an almost circular swim that starts and finishes in the waters around Australia.

On his journey he encounters all manner of marine creatures including penguins and a tiger shark off the southern Cape of Africa,

and an angel shark in European waters.

There are blue sharks, octopus and squid in North American waters while off South America lurk Hammerheads. In the Pacific he sees dolphins, humans and in the kelp forest a Great White shark. Off the coast of Hawaii manta rays and green sea turtles dive and dance; 

then finally there is the Great Barrier Reef and a host of other blacktip sharks all of which help the reef in its struggle to survive.

Totally mesmeric is Dom Conlon’s poetry of motion, which cleverly weaves a sub-aquatic non-fiction story that is ideal for sharing with children either in KS1 or KS2. Anastasia Izlesou’s visual images too, transport readers and listeners to an underwater world of wondrous richness and beauty.

As well as the factual information contained in Shark’s odyssey there is a map tracing his path and a double spread of facts about sharks and the other marine animals.