Amazing Non Fiction

Today’s selection of non fiction books are absolutely mesmerising, offering readers so much more than just plain old facts. The styles of writing are varied, the illustrations fascinating and topics are inspiring. We cover chemistry, history, geography, biology, migration and so much more within the pages of these books!

Journey to the Last River, Edited by Teddy Keen, Published by Frances Lincoln (Quarto)

This is by far the most enchanting non fiction book I have come across. A sealed case of notebooks, logbooks, illustrations and maps was discovered and this is the unfolding adventure of what was found. Detailed, beautiful images accompany a journal like exploration of the Amazon, introducing readers to the jungle, the creatures, the danger and the encounters of the Unknown Adventurer. Readers will be enthralled with this detailed journey, reading and viewing everything from the inventory of their kit, the animals found alongside them and the incredible vistas as seen by the explorers. I think it is the illustrations that truly set this apart, sketched as seen by the adventurer and bringing a new part of the world into focus. Diary like in text, I read this almost as a work of fiction.

Hide and Seek History, The Greeks by Jonny Marx and Chaaya Prabhat, Published by Little Tiger

Who can resist a lift the flap book about Ancient Greek history? This large volume has more than 80 flaps to lift and explore. I know my own children love finding the flap and lifting it to see what gem is hidden underneath. Chunky blocks of text, both on top of and under each flap will ensure readers close the book with a full understanding of the Ancient Greeks, mythology and extreme sports. Board book in feel, this will stand the test of time and numerous flap lifting so plenty of readers can soak up the knowledge. The brilliant illustrations and use of colour set this book apart from others about the same time period. For me, I loved reading about the Gods and Goddesses that were worshipped, endlessly fascinating.

A History of the World in 25 Cities by Tracey Turner, Andrew Donkin and Libby Vander Ploeg, Published by Nosy Crow

I am a huge fan of world cities and would happily roam the streets of a major city each weekend. Cities have stories to tell, are melting pots of cultures, ideas and experiences and have survived countless events in their histories. This volume allows readers the chance to step back in time to some of the largest and most powerful cities from history. We begin in Jericho circa 8500 BCE, and travel around the globe and into the future ending in Tokyo and with the last pages encouraging sustainability and renewable energy. So many cities have changed drastically over time but each one has a tale to tell, and some have some historical landmarks still standing. Perhaps it is time to hit the road and visit one of the cities from this book for comparisons!

Microbe Wars by Gill Arbuthnott and Marianna Madriz, Published by Templar Books

A timely book in our COVID challenging times…one that may just help explain the internal wars that humans have been fighting against microbes for centuries. Told with humour and illustrated with style, this book brings microbes to life and shares some of the history and science behind them. With a graphic novel feel, and use of infographics this book is a delight to study. The text and topic are more suited for a KS2 classroom but KS1 children will enjoy browsing the pages and imagining fighting the microbes in their body. History proves that we can learn from previous battles and move forward with hope for defeating other microbes in the future. I learned so much from this book, it is one I will re-visit time and time again, likely taking something new from each visit.

Time to Move South for Winter by Clare Helen Welsh and Jenny Lovlie, Published by Nosy Crow

Animal migration is a fascinating discussion to have in classrooms. Plotting out the route on a map highlights the vast distances and dangers that some migrations must cross. Narrative in its style, we follow the black-capped tern as she leaves the Arctic in search of warmth in the South. As she flies along, we meet other migrating animals in search of warmer weather, and the repetition of “It was time to move south for winter”, allows readers to join in on every page. Helpful facts at the end of the book give readers further details about the distances covered, reasons for migration and food needed to survive. The stunning illustrations are detailed, emotive and as the reader, I could feel the turn of the weather. I, too, want to move south for the winter!

Britannica First Big Book of Why by Sally Symes, Stephanie Warren Drimmer and Kate Slater, Published by Britannica Books

This large volume has the feel of an encyclopaedia! Each double page spread asks a simple question that many children may ask in their younger years as they discover the world around them. Brilliant illustrations help those young readers learn about the answers to these important questions. A first introduction to research and encyclopedias, this fun and engaging book is a delight to read and share. I also like the addition of Wacky Facts that add an extra fascinating element to the text. From science and food to space and animals- there is plenty to learn and fact share with others. This is heading into a Reception class this week and I can already imagine the learning that will take place!

The Stardust that Made Us by Colin Stuart and Ximo Abadia, Published by Big Picture Press

Chemistry and books about the Elements have been very popular lately and this new addition to the family will be well liked and used. Bold in its illustrative style, this may just inspire the next generation of chemists and scientists. Chemistry, for some, can seem overwhelming but this book aims to ease readers into the knowledge of the elements and their distinct personalities. Dividing the elements into their categories and their similarities, readers can learn a bit more about the importance of each element and their place in our world. Past scientists are given a mention due to their significant discoveries and contributions to science. The infographics are amazing and certainly helped my understanding of the elements and their uses and needs. This would be perfect for Y7 and Y8 science classrooms, though any budding scientist will love it.

As Large as Life by Jonny Marx and Sandhya Prabhat, Published by Little Tiger

This colourful volume will take readers on an adventure meeting creatures great and small, allowing for comparisons to be made between sizes. A super fold out poster at the back will really help to ensure understanding and comparisons between animals of all shapes and sizes. Spanning the world and habitats, readers will learn about new animals and some familiar favourites. The illustrations take centre stage in this book with the text being placed helpfully on each page, short bursts that are accessible for all ages. I love the use of colours throughout the book and the easy to understand facts. The perfect placement of human hands, or a full human body aids readers in making comparisons, some that will likely frighten, like the Goliath Birdeater Spider, and others that seem unbelievable, like the enormous Blue Whale. Children are often impressed when learning animal facts and I am sure this will be well placed in the hands of any reader!

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