Wonderful Wildlife

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It Starts With a Seed
Laura Knowles and Jennie Webber
Words & Pictures
Sometimes I open a parcel and just know I’m going to love a book before I’ve even got inside the cover. Such a one is this and as the title says It Starts With a Seed – a sycamore seed.
In this gorgeous book Laura Knowles’ rhyming narrative takes us on a journey – a journey through days, weeks, months, seasons and years as we follow the growth of that seed from the time it falls to earth right through until it’s a mature tree – fully formed with its own ecosystem. Jenny Webber’s delicate, detailed illustrations show every stage of the tree’s development from seedling …

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to sapling to the ‘leaf-laden, bark-bound arboreal home’ to the plethora of insects, birds and mammals that live therein.

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What I love so much about this book though is the sense of awe and wonder it’s likely to engender in those who read or listen to its lyrical words and pore over its painterly portrayals of the natural world. Such a superb way to embody a fair amount of information and the whole narrative is presented again on the front of a gatefold finale that opens to show seasonal changes to the leaf and flower and provide additional information such as ‘A sycamore’s small flowers grown in clusters known as racemes’ and ‘A sycamore can grow 35 metres tall’ – wow! And all from one tiny seed.
A book to buy and to keep, a book to share and a book to give: it’s perfect for autumnal reading but equally, it’s one to be returned to often, at home or in the classroom.
Laura Knowles has also has co-written

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British Wildlife
Matthew Morgan & Laura Knowles
QED
Essentially this is a visual introduction to some of the riches of the natural world to be found in the British Isles from frogs to fruits …

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and fishes to fungi.

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Illuminature
Rachel Williams and Carnovsky
Wide Eyed Editions
This is an awesome look at over 180 animals and the plethora of plants that inhabit ten of the world’s very different environments from the Congo Rainforest to Loch Lomond and from the Californian Redwood Forest to the Ganges River Basin.

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Awesome because, thanks to the three-coloured lens (included in a pocket at the front of the book) readers are able to get three different views. Look through the red lens and you see the diurnal animals, the blue lens will show nocturnal and crepuscular creatures and the green lens reveals each habitat’s plant life.
Each habitat is allocated six pages – two ‘viewing’ spreads, one giving key facts about the place and a textless “observation deck’ …

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followed by a black and white one –

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a ‘species guide’ that provides more detailed information on the particular animals featured in the coloured scenes. I foresee squabbles arising over this one.

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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The World-Famous Magical Numbers & Peekaboo Wild

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The World-Famous Book of Magical Numbers
Sarah Goodreau
Big Picture Press
Wow! This is a bobby-dazzler. Superbly designed in a gloriously retro, vintage style, it’s a truly magical presentation of numbers (0 to 0), with opportunities for counting aplenty, rendered in bold, bright colours and a myriad of patterns, by 1 master magician …

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(and, of course, Sarah Goodreau) You’ll be astounded for sure!
There’s excitement on every page: prestidigitation abounds as we see sleights of hand, grand illusions and out-of-this world wizardry all done through ingenious paper-engineering that employs flaps …

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tab-pulls, pop-ups …

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and a truly splendiferous grand finale …

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which is followed by a farewell from our magician extraordinaire. – when he makes an appearance that is …

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It’s as well this whole performance is sturdily constructed to stand up to the enthusiastic handling and countless re-reads it’s absolutely bound to receive: oh yes – youngsters may well improve their counting skills too, thanks to this show-stopping treat of a book.

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Peekaboo WILD
Walker Entertainment
The very young can delight in a playful Peekaboo game (based on The Peekaboo Wild app.) First stop is the jungle, where we’re asked who lives therein and by lifting the flap we discover two of the inhabitants. The question and answer format continues with ‘Who else lives there?’ and two more animals hide beneath the flaps.
The second destination is the bush wherein kangaroos, a platypus, an emu and a koala have hidden themselves among the foliage. We move on to the sunny savannah, which has two spreads and herein are lions, a giraffe and a zebra …

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Jagged ice peaks greet us in the Arctic, home to all these beauties …

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Then it’s on to a bamboo forest home to two species of panda: the black and white one and a red panda as well as a tiger and a pangolin.
The two final spreads show first, a pictorial world map setting the animals in their continents and on the second, each habitat has a flap under which its respective inhabitants are hidden.
Through an enjoyable shared experience babies can learn so much about the animals in this board book; but even more important is the ‘books are fun’ message this will convey. In addition older siblings just starting to read can demonstrate their developing skill by reading it to a baby brother or sister.

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