Let’s Go For a Walk / Look What I Found at the Seaside

Let’s Go For a Walk
Ranger Hamza and Kate Kronreif
Ivy Kids

In the company of Ranger Hamza, any walk will be an experience that engages all the senses. No matter where or when you go there’s sure to be a wealth of interesting sights, sounds, smells and exciting tactile things to feel with our hands. Best to do as Ranger Hamza advises though and take a copy of this book along, then suitably attired and with eyes and ears open, everyone is ready to sally forth.

The first focus is colour and youngsters are encouraged to spot red things and of course, what is found will depend on the season and to some extent the surroundings.
Then what about trying to spy things tall, wide or small; or feeling various things like these walkers are doing on the sea shore.

Not all smells are to be savoured; we all enjoy different ones. I for instance would not want to be in close proximity of fresh fish or chimney smoke but would love to inhale the aroma of lavender or baking bread. The important thing is to do as the ranger suggests and ‘use our noses’.

Each double spread has a new focus: there are shapes, minibeasts, sounds,

letters and numbers, pairs of objects, different materials that things are made of. The dark makes everything look different, shadowy perhaps, or you might spot some nocturnal creatures or star patterns if you walk at night.
To see other things up high though, it’s better to walk in the daytime when the clouds sometimes look amazing; while focussing on the ground can be equally rewarding with plants popping up in unexpected places and all kinds of patterns created either by humans or by nature.

With wildlife photographer and CBeebies Ranger Manza as guide and Kate Kronreif as illustrator, this guided book walk is sure to make youngsters want to undertake the real thing. Nature and being able to get outdoors are what have kept so many of us – young and not so young – sane over the past year and now I’m pretty sure that henceforward, none of us will take these things for granted. Are you ready, ‘Let’s Go For a Walk’ …

Look What I Found at the Seaside
Moira Butterfield and Jesús Verona
Nosy Crow

There are wonders aplenty waiting to be found if you take a stroll on the seashore with the characters in this smashing book (a companion to Look What I Found in the Woods), also published in collaboration with the National Trust).

Every spread is packed with exciting things to discover, the first being the wealth of different shaped seashells, be they curly and shining bright ‘like a pearl’,

long and curly, opening like a pair of wings or perhaps a purse.

The rock pools too are full of exciting patterned pebbles, fish and other small sea creatures; among the seaweed too are more treasures and sometimes foraging seagulls. Watch out for crabs scuttling among the fronds or peeping out of shells.

It’s interesting to imagine what a mermaid might keep in one of those mermaid’s purses close to the cave mouth …

There’s much more too if you follow the cliff path; maybe some fossils, butterflies, bees and seaside flowers; and if you are quiet you just might come upon some wonderful sea birds tucked away among the rocks.

Yes, the seaside is a veritable treasure trove but it’s important to collect thoughtfully, doing no harm and leaving nothing but your footprints behind.

Told through a gentle rhyming narrative and also bursting with fascinating facts, and illustrated with alluring scenes of the children investigating the natural world, this will surely get youngsters enthused to get out and explore nature.

When We Went Wild

When We Went Wild
Isabella Tree and Allira Tee
Ivy Kids

This is prize-winning author, conservationist and rewilder, Isabella Tree’s first book for children. Herein she describes what happens when farmers Nancy and Jake decide to convert their failing farm (the animals and even the trees look sad), and whereon they use chemicals for crop growing and machines for milking and harvesting, for something totally different – a haven for wildlife.

Nancy’s idea so to do means they can sell off all the machinery and pay off their debts. Then it’s a waiting game: soon the bare earth is covered in wild flowers, brambles and bushes,

and their animals now roaming free seem much happier.

Their neighbours though, are far from pleased and write to the local paper complaining about the messy vegetation spoiling their view.

Will Nancy and Jake have to abandon their plans and return to conventional technology-led, intensive farming? Happily not. When a storm and torrential rain hits the village everyone prepares for the worst as flash-flooding strikes across the country but that messy vegetation helps to slow and absorb the rainfall and the village is spared. A lesson learned thanks to a near disaster,

and soon everyone is going wild.

Allira Tee’s digital illustrations for this thought-provoking, important book are beautiful and from the alluring cover, every page full of engaging detail.

On the final spread, the author explains what rewilding actually is and talks a little about its importance and her own experience. (The book itself is sustainably produced).

Where’s Will? / Spot the Dinosaur on the Island

Where’s Will?
Tilly and Anna Claybourne
Ivy Kids

Published a while back but new to this reviewer (thanks to the publishers for sending it now) this is a Shakespearean search-and-find extravaganza that presents the bard in an accessible way for young audiences; and let’s face it none of us is going to be able to see a live performance of any of the plays featured in the foreseeable future.

Anna Claybourne has chosen what are arguably, the ten most popular stories show-casing each one through a context setting summary, for instance ‘Twelfth Night is a comedy, and once again Shakespeare’s plot involves the mix-ups caused by people wearing disguises‘, and a story board outline of its plot, along with its cast, that she and artist, Tilly, present on the first of two spreads.

The second is a busy panoramic scene wherein the characters are hiding in plain sight for readers to find; so too is the playwright himself who insists on putting in an appearance in each of his featured works (as does a pig for some reason).

The original language isn’t retained in the storyboard texts – probably an impossible task – but readers familiar with any of the plays could try choosing an appropriate line or two for each vignette, thus adding a further dimension to using the book.
The artist has chosen different tones for each play, thus helping to capture both the drama’s setting and the spirit of its performance.
Some Shakespeare aficionados will likely throw up their hands in horror at all this, but it’s a case of ‘to see, or not to see’ and this bard enthusiast recommends seeing; it’s a case of the more you look, the more you see.

Books such as this could be a boon in the forthcoming weeks, and this one is surely both immersive and entertaining.

For younger search-and-find enthusiasts try:

Spot the Dinosaur on the Island
Stella Maidment and Joelle Dreidemy
QED

Again not brand new but worth getting hold of and sharing with little ones at that dinosaur-mad age most of them go through.

Herein, Joelle Dreidemy’s alluring, bold, bright scenes offer plenty for youngsters to see including a playful baby T. Rex that hides on every double spread while Stella Maidment’s brief narrative guides users, giving snippets of information throughout the adventure.

We visit first the island in its entirety, followed by a sequence of closer-in views of dinosaurs feeding,

moving, hatching, showing off their protective features and some even enjoy a dip, while others take to the air. Then there are those like Pleiosaurus that actually lived in the sea, so there’s plenty of visual information to absorb, as well as five items to spot on each spread.

The last scene is a busy archaeological dig and this is followed by ‘More to Spot’ – an invitation to take another look, a ‘Did you know?’ page and finally, some crafty fun.

 

The Surprising Lives of Animals

The Surprising Lives of Animals
Anna Claybourne and Stef Murphy
Ivy Kids

The author of this look at animal lives talks in her introduction of the close link between humans and other animals, dividing the book into five aspects of behaviour that we all exhibit. She then goes on to explore elements of each one through a wide variety of animals both large and small, using playfulness (Having Fun), Thinking and Feeling, Everyday Life, co-existence and community (Living Together), and Settling Down and reproducing, as themes.

Adults as well as young readers will find plenty of interest: I was surprised to learn for instance that seagulls have been observed playing catch by dropping a stick or a stone from high up in the sky then swooping down to catch it before it reaches the ground – an aspect of playfulness so some scientists think.

Did you know that octopuses are highly intelligent and are able to work out how to undo screw-top jars and childproof containers to get their tentacles on tasty snacks?

Or that that an African grey parrot named Alex, studied by animal brain scientist Dr Irene Pepperberg was able to identify different colours, shapes and materials, and sort items into categories? This is just one of the numerous things she discovered during her 30 years of training and working with the bird.

Equally clever in their own way are the Army ants found in South America that are able to build bridges out of their own bodies. Then having done so they use the bridges to get across gaps and work co-operatively until all members of a colony have traversed the gap. That’s teamwork for you.

Anna Claybourne mentions the work of a number of animal scientists in her ‘Scientist Spotlight’ insets. Her narrative style makes the entire book highly readable as well as informative; and Stef Murphy’s illustrations illuminate not only the animals’ fascinating behaviours but also their habitats and characteristics.

Recommended for family bookshelves as well as primary school collections.

The Everyday Journeys of Ordinary Things

The Everyday Journeys of Ordinary Things
Libby Deutsch and Valpuri Kerttula
Ivy Kids

Children, especially young ones, are tremendously inquisitive, asking endless questions about how the world works. What happens to my luggage when I catch a plane to go on holiday? Where do those bananas mum’s bought at the supermarket for my lunch box come from?

Or What happens to my poo when I flush the loo?

The entire processes that answer these questions and seventeen others are presented, one per double spread by means of Valpuri Kerttula ‘s flowing style graphics and Libby Deutsch’s succinct paragraphs of text.

Not all though are physical processes: ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ follows the journey of a film idea right through to shooting.

Where does the water in the tap come from?’ presents the water cycle while ‘The invisible Movement of Millions’ takes readers through the change from commodity trading, through coin currency to bring it right up to date with the electronic transfer of money via computer.

With its engaging visual and verbal narrative, this is just the book to have on the shelf to answer some of those How? … posers your children bombard you with be they at home or school.

A Nest is Noisy / Secrets of Our Earth / Secrets of Animal Camouflage

A Nest is Noisy
Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
Chronicle Books
Full of fascinating information, poetically presented, (like its companion titles from this super-talented duo) is this rivetingly illustrated look at the irresistible world of nests. Who could resist Dianna Hutts Aston’s opening ‘ … it’s a nursery of chirp-chirping … (Ruby-throated Hummingbird) buzzing … (honeybees) squeaking … (American Alligator) peep-peeping … (Fox Squirrel) bubbling babies (Gourami)’ …

Did you know for instance that the world’s smallest nest – that of the bee hummingbird – is golf-ball sized and normally wrapped in spider’s silk, the stretchiness of which allows the nest to expand as the babies increase in size?
Or, that orang-utans braid beds of strong branches high up in the rainforest canopy and on rainy nights a woven umbrella of leaves keeps them dry? I certainly didn’t, nor was I aware that lampreys make underwater nests from pebbles varying in size from a pea to a base-ball; and that the temperature of an alligator’s nest determines the sex of the baby alligators.
A splendid introduction to a captivating topic, this is sure to inspire awe and wonder at nature’s creativity while at the same time prompting children to revisit its contents over and over.

Secrets of Our Earth
Carron Brown and Wesley Robins
Ivy Kids
A recent addition to the cleverly conceived Shine-a-Light series of non-fiction titles that makes reading all the more exciting as you need a torch or flashlight, in this instance, to reveal the secrets of our earth from the outside in.
Readers are shown topographical features such as mountains …

and volcanoes, rivers and oceans, deserts and grasslands, rainforests and even cities: Holding the light behind the page gives a behind-the-scenes look at each destination.
Just the thing for Early Years and KS1 topic boxes and ideal for those youngsters who prefer to read information books. Build your topical role play area, then place the book strategically inside with a large torch and see what happens.
Other titles in the series include:
Secrets of Animal Camouflage
Carron Brown and Wesley Robins
Ivy Kids
This is another one of the series. Here you need your torch or flashlight to reveal the hidden world of arachnids, stick insects, Bengal tigers, tree-trunk hiding owls, amazingly camouflaged butterflies and more. Each of these creatures and others are hiding in plain sight in its natural habitat and by holding a light behind the page the camouflaged animal is revealed.

A clever and fascinating, interactive introduction to the vital topic of adaptation made all the more so by Robins’ alluring art work.

On the Plane
Carron Brown and Bee Johnson
This one features everything airport-related from the airline staff at the check-in desk to the pilots who, with the help of a computer, fly the planes.
This is one to read just before that first flight, or next trip.
The Human Body
Carron Brown and Rachael Saunders
This takes readers below the skin to see the skeleton and muscles, and then resurfaces to look at skin patterns, before going internal again to find out about the respiratory system, the nervous system, digestion, excretion, teeth, reproduction and more.
It’s almost a case of whatever topic happens to be your focus, there’s one of these books to illuminate it. Perfect for inquiring minds and show me a young child that doesn’t have one of those.

I’ve signed the charter