Botanicum & Destination: Space – Awesome Information Books


Katie Scott and Kathy Willis
Big Picture Press
I was fortunate to spend a year working in the Kew Herbarium in a kind of gap year after science A-levels and have retained an interest in Botany ever since. It was like being in another world and so I was especially interested to receive a copy of this large, lavishly produced book for review.
Published in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, it is essentially, a guide to the world’s flora, illustrated by Katie Scott (who also illustrated Animalium) with text from co-curator, Professor Kathy Willis (Kew’s Director of Science).
Before entering the seven galleries we’re given a wonderful introductory spread of the different types of plants that sets the scene for the whole thing …


Gallery 1 contains the most primitive plants in habitants of the Carboniferous Forests: from single celled diatoms



to ferns.
Trees (and shrubs) comprise gallery 2 and from there we move to Palms and Cycads, Herbaceous Plants,


Wild Flowers

then Grasses, Cattails, Sedges and Rushes; followed by Orchids and Bromeliads in Gallery 6 and the final section looks at Adapting to Environments.
The detailed illustrations are superb – look at these pitcher plants …


and the variety of page layout adds extra visual interest as the thick pages are turned and we gaze transfixed at some hundred colour spreads that provide a veritable visual feast.


Each entry is numbered and factual snippets are provided in a key. I’m pleased to see the Latin names are used – I often find these coming to mind more easily than the common ones, but I guess that’s my botanical background.


There’s something to interest everyone from primary school browser and information seeker to adult reader as the text ranges between chatty – in reference to the giant sequoia ‘it takes sixteen adults holding hands to reach around one‘ to the more challenging (of lichens): ‘They are a collaboration between a fungal element and photosynthesising algae.’ Having said that, I know that children at least, are able to absorb challenging vocabulary in context.
A terrific collaboration and a fine volume to accompany Animalium.

Information-hungry youngsters should find much to interest in:


Destination: Space
Dr Christoph Englert and Tom Clohosy Cole
Wide Eyed Editions
Herein readers can join five astronauts and embark on a journey of discovery through our Solar System to galaxies beyond. During the course of the mind-boggling journey, they can find out about such topics as ‘Stars’,’Earth’s Cycles‘ …


‘Black Holes’, ‘The Solar System’ and ‘Earth and its Magnetic Field’ . They can read about telescopes ancient and modern …


Unmanned Space Exploration’ that uses probes and contemplate ‘Life on Other Planets’. Each of these (and other fascinating subjects) is given a large, mostly visual double spread illustration by Tom Clohosy Cole onto which is superimposed an introductory paragraph and other snippets of information from lecturer in astronomy and physics, Dr Christoph Englert.
The grand finale is a fold-out page that when open becomes a large, double-sided poster.
Just the thing for a topic on space in the primary school or for interested individuals.


Princes, a Princess and a Dragon

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The Red Prince
Charlie Roscoe and Tom Clohosy Cole
Templar Publishing
Set in a make believe kingdom named Avala, this wonderfully illustrated neo fairy tale is the story of how the young prince is kidnapped by strangers who invade the shores of the realm one night. Having seized the city, the invaders capture the prince hiding him away in a dark fortress dungeon.
Near to despair, he eventually manages to escape one dark night and off he dashes through the falling snow

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until he comes upon a young girl who tells him he must get to the city. You will find help in unlikely places, she reassures him. Her words prove true …

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for having crossed the island and managed to sneak through the city gates an amazing sight meets the red prince’s (and the reader’s) eyes …

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With all Avala sporting red prince garments, the strangers realize they are now faced with a near impossible task, so they return to their boats and sail away.
In his powerful illustrations Tom Clohosy Cole makes dramatic use of dark and light

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creating amazing atmospheric scenes employing all manner of angles and perspectives.

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The Princess Who Had No Fortune
Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb
Orchard Books
A princess (albeit one with a best pal talking cat) too poor and with too much work to do to go to the prince’s ball surely has its roots in Cinderella. However, in this neo fairy tale the work to be done is down to her father’s latest exploit: she has to prepare for a special party to celebrate the inaugural flight of the king’s latest flying machine. Cupcakes not court balls are her preoccupation, and so is getting the garden into shape for the event.
However, the young man who gets the gardening job is about as good at doing his task (he tries to cut the lawn with a penknife) as she is at baking cakes – terrible!

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When the two sit down together for a coffee break, the gardener makes some suggestions.

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The princess turns down his first idea of a “prince in shining armour” but what about “making a wish to your fairy godmother,” Now there’s a thought, even if you’re not sure you have one …
Ursula Jones witty tale is perfectly complemented by Sarah Gibb’s lush illustrations:

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her colorful collage and paint style scenes resemble a theatrical production and the alternate silhouette spreads, which put me in mind of those by Jan Pieńkowski, are stunningly beautiful.

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The Extremely Greedy Dragon
Jessica Barrah and Chris Saunders
QED Publishing
When a sleepy and very large dragon decides to take a snooze on the railway line at Little Chiddling the residents have a problem, or most of them do. Young Georgie Johnson however is eager for the reward money offered to anyone able to move the creature and so decides to try her luck.
The crisps she offers the huge beast hit the mark …

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and before long Georgie and the dragon are off in search of more tasty tidbits to satisfy what proves a very large appetite. Those they encounter however are happy to share their food in return for a little help from the dragon in drying out the picnic spot, lighting the barbeque fire, warning up the wedding venue and finally, once Georgie has persuaded the mayor, drying out the damp fireworks to make the festival go with a sparkle and a bang.

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With its inbuilt messages about not judging by appearances and eating healthily, there’s plenty of food for thought and discussion herein.

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Exciting event in Piccadilly, London till 29th October : The Children’s Book Illustration Art Exhibition