Discovering Architecture

Discovering Architecture
Eduard Altarriba and Berta Bardí I Milà
Button Books

The urge to build structures is seemingly, a universal human trait. I spent some of the Easter break constructing a den in a quiet woodland glade in Bushy Park, from a fallen tree trunk and branches, with 6-year old Emmanuelle and her soon to be 4, brother Samuel.

When they are ready to discover more about the build environment, this tremendous introduction should prove invaluable.

The graphic designer and illustrator Eduard Altarriba has already introduced young readers to Quantum Physics and now in a similarly engaging manner presents a look at iconic buildings through history, their creators and some of the items that might be found inside such buildings.

Starting with the earliest known building projects, the pyramids of Egypt, Iraq and Mexico, Classical Greek, Roman and Byzantine places of worship, domestic and vernacular architecture from many parts of the world, information on architects such as Antoni Gaudí, Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Zaha Hadid …

readers are given a superb presentation of things and people architectural.

The final spreads focus on architecture’s basic elements – there’s a cut-away diagram of the principal parts of a building; what being an architect entails and lastly a look at what buildings might be like in the future (it’s good to see sustainability given a paragraph here).

University lecturer at the School of Architecture, UPC, Barcelona, Berta Bardí I Milá packs a wealth of absorbing information into the uncluttered spreads, so finely designed and illustrated by Altarriba.

Perfect for KS2 readers and perhaps adults wanting a starting point for the topic.

My First Book of Relativity

My First Book of Relativity
Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferrón and Eduard Altarriba
Button Books

We had My First Book of Quantum Physics and now for a companion volume, its creators have turned their attention to another potentially complex science topic, that of relativity.

However, in the hands of this partnership, Einstein’s theory of relativity and other related aspects of connections between space and time are explained in such a way as to make them accessible to young readers. For, as it says on the back of this book, ‘it’s never too early to start exploring big ideas.’ So, how does one start?

The space-time theory, we read, can only be properly understood by first understanding what the two concepts mean in themselves; and then we’re in a position (like Einstein) to understand ‘the world through relativity’.

Time is succinctly explored – how it’s measured, by what means and the various units used.

Speed,

movement and the vital importance of frames of reference are explained, the latter using the example of a moving train and then a person in space.

There are spreads on adding up speeds and the speed of light, leading into Einstein’s two theories, special relativity and general relativity (his theory about gravity).

I love the ‘thought experiments’ relating to time dilation and clocks; and the wonderful spread whereon ten year old Alice travels to our nearest star Proxima Centauri, leaving her same aged friend  waiting for her on Earth and returning to find she’s still  ten whereas he is now almost 19, put me in mind of T.S. Eliot’s famous lines from Burnt Norton ‘Time present and time past / Are both perhaps present in time future / And time future contained in time past.’

If only physics had been made this fascinating back in the day when I was studying it at A-level (albeit only for a few weeks before deciding it wasn’t for me).

I’d not heard of muons before reading this book – a muon being an elementary particle of the electron family weighing around 200 times more than an electron, but again found the spread using a muon to check time dilation and length contraction totally engrossing.

The book concludes with how speed increases the mass of an object; the imaginings of the young Einstein (note the word imagined is used by the author, highlighting the crucial importance of the role of the imagination in scientific discovery) and a look at the mathematical equations Einstein used to describe his ideas of special relativity, the former taking mere weeks to find, whereas he took ten years to understand the ideas themselves.

The entire topic is mind-stretchingly incredible and brilliantly explained in this book, with the aid of Eduard Altarriba’s vibrant, graphics. Strongly recommended for budding scientists either for home reading or in school.

My City / In The City

 

My City
Joanne Liu
Prestel Children’s Books

A small boy, Max, is given the job of posting a letter and sets off to the post box.
His route through the city takes him past a launderette where he stops to watch the swirling whirling clothes in the machines;

then he stops at a crossing to look in a puddle (in stark contrast to the other people many of whom have their eyes on their phones)

and has an encounter with a rubbish collector and his truck. He chases after a leaf as it’s whooshed by the wind, catches it and eventually presents it to a man on a bench.

Each of these small happenings is followed by a shift in perspective that puts the reader as it were, behind the boy’s head as he meanders, ever watchful through the bustling city and through the day, all the while open-armed as though embracing each and every new experience until finally, he arrives back home to his watchful mother, and the mail box right by their house.

Almost wordless, Joanne Liu allows her vibrant, textured paintings to tell the story while allowing readers to create their own too, perhaps about the spotty dog that appears in several scenes.

A visual delight to explore and re-explore making new discoveries on each reading.

In The City
Dominika Lipniewska
Button Books

Dominika Lipniewska takes readers on an exploratory journey from the stirrings of early morning through twenty-four hours back to another sunrise.

Her graphical style urban landscapes have the playful appearance of a construction block city, comprising Lego-type figures, buildings and vehicles.

The streets and railway are full of hustle and bustle as commuters hurry on their way to work or perhaps take a more leisurely walk with a dog.

Noise is at times overwhelming, but not everywhere is so frenetic; there are green leafy spaces where wild life abounds, and quieter spots to pause and partake of some rest and repast.

Different as people may be, they share much in common including a love of ice-cream and engaging in fun activities as well as shopping – be that in a shopping centre

or smaller shops on the street, as well as the market, a great location for buying fresh produce.

Like most cities this one has other places of interest: a large variety of eating places, museums and art galleries, a zoo and more; and it’s both ever-changing and never still for some people work through the night to provide essential services.

Every spread offers enormous potential for observing and talking; in fact the whole book is visually appealing and immersive.

Plant, Sow, Make & Grow

Plant, Sow, Make & Grow
Esther Coombs
Button Books

Absolutely bursting with helpful gardening information whatever the season (the book is divided into four seasonal sections), the enthusiastic author, who started a gardening club at her daughter’s primary school and still runs it, has created a super book that introduces children to the wealth of opportunities being involved in a gardening project offers.

Before the seasonal sections, readers learn what the essentials are to get started, including the idea of creating a planting plan – all vital if you’re to make a success of your garden. Re-using and recycling are a part of the former and I like the idea of using loo rolls to make seed pots (I’ve frequently cut the tops from cardboard milk cartons but never tried this idea before).

Spring seed growing suggestions include salad leaves, tomatoes

potatoes, strawberries (the purchase of a few small plants initially is suggested here), root vegetables such as carrots and beetroot, peas and sweetcorn make up the edible kinds. Growing some flower seeds is also suggested because flowers will attract pollinators to your veg patch.
Then come a page on thinning out seedlings and another on wildlife – good and not good.

The summer section focuses on pumpkin growing, companion planting and lots of ideas for making useful items including a hanging-bottle container for tomatoes, a protective cover for strawberries, a watering can out of a screw top plastic bottle, as well as some creative activities, the suggestion of measuring some of the especially tall-growing plants

and some bee-related info. Then of course, there’s the important ‘summer harvest’.

Autumn is the season when much is ready for harvesting: sweetcorn, potatoes, root crops should all offer rich pickings and diggings at this time.

Compost, potting on strawberries, harvesting wild flower seeds, carving a pumpkin, creating a seasonal wreath and a bug home are also covered in this section.

Winter is the shortest section and again it’s packed with great tips such as saving seeds to plant the following year as well as stems for next year’s canes; creating a bird feeder from a sunflower head and more.

Motivating and thoroughly down to earth, this alluringly illustrated book is one I wholeheartedly recommend for school and home.

Non-Fiction Miscellany: Ambulance Ambulance / Weird Animals / Castle Adventure Activity Book

Ambulance Ambulance
Sally Sutton and Brian Lovelock
Walker Books

An ambulance crew responds to an emergency call out: a boy has come off his bike and ‘Nee nar nee nar nee nar nee nar …’ off goes the ambulance to the scene of the accident.

On arrival the paramedics make the necessary checks, put a splint on the child’s broken leg and carefully lift him onto a stretcher and into the ambulance.

Then with horn honking and lights flashing, off they go racing to the hospital, “Quick, quick quick. ‘Nee nar nee nar nee nar nee nar … ‘

Once the boy is safely inside and the hand-over complete, the crew are ready for a rest, but it’s not long before another emergency call comes and so off they go again …

Team Sally and Brian are already well known for their previous picture books such as Roadworks and Construction. Non-fiction loving little ones delight in these books and will doubtless relish this one with its bright illustrations, especially since its rhyming text comes with opportunities for joining in all those ‘Nee nar’ sounds. Share at home or in a nursery setting and watch the response …

Weird Animals
Mary Kay Carson
Sterling Children’s Books

The world of nature is full of strange and wonderful creatures, large and small, a dozen or so of which are featured in Mary May Carson’s Weird Animals. The author specialises in writing non-fiction for children and those with an insatiable appetite for the fantastically weird will enjoy her latest book.

It explains the whys and wherefores of some amazing adaptations, those odd characteristics that help these creatures survive and thrive.

Take for example the Pink Fairy armadillo with its oversized feet and fluffy underside that helps keep the creature warm through cold desert nights.

The frightening-looking fauna from different parts of the world include insects, reptiles, birds, fish, mammals, with explanations for their appearance. Weird and wonderful they surely are.

Castle Adventure Activity Book
Jen Alliston
Button Books

Children should find lots to explore in this engaging historical activity book. There are mazes, matching games, word searches, colouring pages that include things to spot of a medieval kind. Observation skills are also required for matching games, determining the winner of a joust, searching for rats in the castle kitchen and more.

There are medieval scenes to complete by drawing and adding stickers as well as a number of crafty projects. Some, such as making a sword or a conical hat for a princess, require additional items – paper, card, scissors etc. and may also need adult assistance.

Some simple maths, words to unscramble and a scattering of jokes are also part and parcel of this themed compilation that’s a fun alternative to constant screen use.

The Secret Woodland Activity Book

The Secret Woodland Activity Book
Mia Underwood
Button Books

A wealth of activities await those who foray into the magical world created by Mia Underwood.

Creatures of all shapes and sizes inhabit this Scandinavian-style woodland: numbering among them are Stardust (snail), Hopper (a bird) and Nisse (a bearded sprite). There are also a forest spirit (an invisible magical being with a protective role), trolls, minibeasts, owls, bears, foxes, an occasional baby dragon; you might even come upon a unicorn or a yeti.

These feature in such activities as mazes, story writing, maths, word searches,

mobile making; there’s also a recipe to make bird feed balls and lots of opportunities for imaginative thinking.

Wonderfully quirky and engaging, this 64-page book includes a plethora of stickers to add to some of the woodland scenes.

With the darker nights upon us, and holidays fast approaching, it’s a super way to distract youngsters from their screens for a while.

Spot the Difference in the Park / Dinosaur Adventure Activity Book & Pirate Adventure Activity Book

Spot the Difference in the Park
Naomi Wilkinson
Lincoln Children’s Books

Five scenes show in turn, a host of playful dogs some accompanied by a walker; animals engaged in various sporting activities such as soccer, tennis, skate-boarding, badminton and cycling; a boating lake;

the flower beds; the playground and finally a downpour that sends all the animals homewards, with each offering five spot the differences per spread. The answers are found by looking beneath the flaps on each recto.
Set against subtle background colours, each busy scene, with its rhyming introduction, provides young spotters plenty of detail to peruse and enjoy, in addition to identifying the differences.
Also available is Spot the Difference on the Beach.

For slightly older children are:

Dinosaur Adventure Activity Book
Pirate Adventure Activity Book

illustrated by Jen Allison
Button Books

Following on from her Space Activity Book, Jen Alliston has two new eye-catching titles.
Each of the chosen themes have an enduring allure for young children and in both are to be found games, dot-to-dots, mazes, crafty things, word puzzles, riddles, spot the difference, colouring in, the odd joke or two, even a little bit of maths, as well as 4 pages of stickers (pictures and some labels).
Entertainment is the main focus, although users will likely acquire some new vocabulary and the occasional fact too, as well as developing their skills in observation, manipulation and concentration.
(The answers are supplied at the back of the books for those inclined to check.)