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