Tag Archives: nonfiction

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

Some books encourage children to imagine, some books teach children a new skill, and some books inspire children to do amazing things.  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is an incredible new book by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo that is bursting with stories of amazing girls and women from all over the world. This is a book that everyone needs to read and I guarantee you will be amazed and inspired every time you pick it up.

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There are 100 tales of extraordinary women in Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.  Inside you’ll find stories of artists, mountaineers, nurses, activists, sportspeople, writers, scientists, spies and rock stars.  There are women that you will have heard of before and others who you’ll read about for the first time.  There is such a range of women that there is someone for every girl to relate to.  Each double-page spread features a short biography told in the style of a fairy tale alongside a full page portrait that captures the spirit of each heroine.  Each of the portraits has been created by a different female artist from around the world so they are all completely different styles.

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I love everything about this book!  The fairy tale style biographies are the perfect introduction to each of these extraordinary women.  The authors have captured exactly what it is that makes these women heroines and they’ve done so in a way that is accessible to children young and old.  Each of the biographies really would make great good night stories as you can imagine girls (and boys for that matter) dreaming about the amazing things that they themselves could achieve.  Unlike the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson, these are real women who have overcome adversity to achieve great things.  I love the design of this book, with the double-page spread for each woman.  Their name is at the top of the page, along with what they were known for, and their date of birth (and death if applicable) and the country they came from are at the bottom of the page. A quote from each woman is overlaid on the portrait of them, which is a nice little touch.  There is a contents page at the start of the book but the book is laid out alphabetically by first name so that you can easily flick back to a bio that you want to read again.  The production quality is high too, as it is a beautiful hardback book with ink and paper that you can smell.  A feature that I especially love is the space at the back of the book for girls to write their own story and draw their portrait.

I found this book absolutely fascinating and I learned so much.  There were women that I had never heard of before, such as Jingu, an exceptionally talented and tough Japanese empress, and Claudia Ruggerini, an Italian partisan who helped to bring down Mussolini.  I also learned that as well as being a famous chef Julia Child was a spy in World War Two who cooked cakes to repel sharks.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls needs to be in every home and school library.  It’s not just an important book for girls to read but also boys.  Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo show us how strong, brave, determined and fearless women can be and that girls can achieve amazing things.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

 

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Historium by Jo Nelson and Richard Wilkinson

We love museums in my family.  For me they’ve always been a multi-sensory experience, taking in everything with your eyes but also breathing in that special museum smell of ancient clothing, animals, vehicles and artifacts.  Museums are places that you can spend hours in, soaking up the information and discovering what it would have been like to live 50, 100 or even thousands of years ago.  An incredible new book by Jo Nelson and Richard Wilkinson packs this museum experience in to a book that will keep kids and adults alike occupied for hours.

Discover more than 140 exhibits in this virtual museum, open all hours

Welcome to the museum! Here you will find a collection of objects from ancient civilisations. Objects of beauty, objects of functionality, objects of war, objects of life, and objects of death and burial.

As you wander from room to room, explore the magnificence of what civilisations have left behind over thousands of years of human history.

Historium is an incredible book, filled with artifacts from ancient civilisations from around the world.  There is so much information in this book and it’s set out in a unique way.  The whole book is set out like a museum that you hold in your hands.  You start at the entrance, which welcomes you to the Historium, explains what Archaeology is and gives you a fantastic timeline of the objects in the Historium (my son would love this on his bedroom wall).  Jo and Richard then take us through the varies galleries, from Africa to America, the Middle East to Oceania.  We finish up in the Library, with the indexes, image credits and a little information about the curators of the Historium.

Jo Nelson’s text is detailed but simple enough for children aged 9 and up.  Jo gives a basic introduction to each of the galleries and civilisations and then provides descriptions of each of the artifacts from that civilisation.  There is a good selection of different types of artifacts, from statues and coins to armour.  There is something in this book to interest everyone, but children (and adults) who love history and archaeology will be absolutely rapt.  Richard’s illustrations are extremely detailed and are absolutely stunning.  The illustrations look so realistic that it almost looks like you could reach out and touch them.  Richard has created his illustrations using a photograph of the artifacts as a reference and there is a list of all the museums in the back of the book.

One of the things that I really love about this book is that it covers Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.  So many of these big historical nonfiction books miss out our side of the world and I think it’s important for our kids to know about their history.

The best thing about Historium is the production of the book. It is a beautiful hardback and the pages are thick, which will help it to last all the repeated reading and viewing.  It is also a huge book!  It’s a book that you really need to rest on a table or on the floor to read.  This means that the illustrations are really large too and you can see all the details of the artifacts.  You really feel like you are holding something special and valuable in your hands.

Grab a copy of the incredible Historium from you library or bookshop now.

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Filed under children's nonfiction, history

Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman

You know sometimes when you see a book and instantly fall in love?  I had one of those moments recently when I laid my eyes on Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman.  I first saw this book on one of my favourite book websites, Love Reading 4 Kids and the cover really caught my eye.  When I finally got my hands on a copy of the book from my library I fell in love.  Excuse me while I gush over this book.

Creaturepedia is a visually stunning book about creatures from all over the world.  The book’s by-line is ‘Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth,’ and it’s not wrong.  Adrienne Barman introduces us to creatures great and small, huge and miniscule. Adrienne has split the book up into different sections, with names like ‘The Champion Breath-Holders,’ ‘The Masters of Camoflage,’ and The Show-Offs.’  The beauty of this book though is that it is perfect for dipping in and out of.  You could pick any page at random and it would make you go ‘Wow!’  Curious children could flick to ‘The Lilliputians’ and discover that the Bee Hummingbird is the world’s smallest bird at 5.7cm long or that the Dwarf Gecko is the world’s smallest reptile at 1.6cm long.

The text in the book is sparse, letting the reader focus on the gorgeous illustrations that portray these creatures.  Children will discover creatures that they never knew existed and will want to find out more about them.  Adrienne’s illustrations are vibrant, quirky and fun.  Each of the creatures has its own unique personality.  Take a look at just a couple of the page spreads from the book:

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Before you even open the book you can tell you’re holding a work of art in your hands.  The publisher of Creaturepedia, Wide Eyed Editions, clearly knows what makes a great book.  The love that went into producing this book is evident, from the hardcover to the binding and the vibrant colours to the high-quality paper.

Get your hands on a copy of Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman and fall in love with this stunning book!

Creaturepedia is just one of the gorgeous books published by Wide Eyed Editions (distributed in Aus/NZ by Allen and Unwin).  Check out their website now.

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Wearable Wonders by Fifi Colston

Are your kids crafty and creative?  Are you looking for that perfect idea to keep your kids entertained for hours these school holidays?  Wearable Wonders is Fifi Colston’s fantastic new book that’s bursting with creativity, tips, tricks and ideas to help you make your own wearable wonder.

What wonderful stories can petals, shells and stones tell?

What fantastic forms can fabrics, wire and cardboard take?

What out-of-this-world shapes can old cans and drink bottles make?

Mix them together, add a dash of drama and a splash of imagination and learn how to WOW the world with your very own wearable wonder!

As Fifi says in her introduction, this isn’t a book with patterns that show you how to make something in particular, it’s about showing you ‘how you can come up with an idea for something you’d never dreamed of making before.’  There are plenty of examples of wearable wonders that Fifi and others have created to show you what can be created from materials that you might have lying around the house.

Fifi has split the book up in to lots of sections so that you can work through your masterpiece from start to finish.  The first section is all about how and where to find good ideas, and Fifi gives some great tips about tips to help inspire you.  Once you have your idea, Fifi then takes you through how to plan your time, shows you the tools and materials that you might need to create your masterpiece, shows you how to construct it, looks at what other accessories you might need to complete your look, and how to paint it.  The last section looks at staging a wearable art show and the things you need to pull it all together.

There is so much to like about Wearable Wonders. The information is clear, simple and easy to follow.  I especially like the way that the text is arranged in small blocks, on pieces of paper that look like they’ve been pinned or taped to the page.  The text is surrounded with lots of colourful diagrams and photos, with arrows matching photos and descriptions.  It’s the sort of book that will appeal to kids, teens and adults because it’s so user-friendly.  I’m not a crafty person but Fifi makes it look easy to create something wonderful from recycled materials.

Grab a copy of Wearable Wonders from your library or bookshop and create your own masterpiece.  It’s the perfect way to spend the school holidays or a rainy weekend.

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Make some Sneaky Art with your kids

With the weather getting colder and wetter it’s great to have something crafty up your sleeves to entertain your children.  I was pretty useless at art as a kid (and still am) but my dad helped me make some pretty wicked crafty creations.  There are some great art and craft books around and our library shelves are always bursting with them.  Candlewick Press have just released a really cool new craft book by Marthe Jocelyn, called Sneaky Art: Crafty Surprises to Hide in Plain Sight.

Sneaky Art is chock full of quirky yet simple craft ideas that kids will love to make.  Marthe says that sneaky art ‘is quick to install and effortless to remove’ and that each project in the book is ‘meant to be displayed in a public place, for people you may know or may not know, in a made-you-look-twice spirit of fun.’  There are Fractured Faces that you can stick anywhere, tiny bunting for a teeny party, a teensy-weensy washing line, and miniature houses to place in unexpected places.  My favourite idea is something I might just try in the library – Library Shouts.  These are large speech bubbles, with sayings like ‘Best Book Ever!’ and ‘Read Me!’ that you can stick in books to make them jump out at you.

The thing I love about all the ideas in Sneaky Art is that you can make them from stuff you already have at home, including junk mail, magazines, and Post-it notes.  Part of the fun of making the things in this book is finding somewhere funny to leave them.  Together you can plan your sneak art attack.

Next time you’re looking for something to entertain your kids grab a copy of Sneaky Art from your library or bookshop.

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Show Me a Story: Why Picture Books Matter

I’ve loved picture books from a young age.  I still remember those ones that my parents read to me when I was little, especially books by Janet and Allen Ahlberg like Each Peach Pear Plum.  When I was at school the wonderful librarians at my local public library introduced me to more sophisticated picture books, like Gary Crew’s The Water Tower. Now, as a librarian I read lots of picture books every week, both for my own enjoyment and to share with children in the library.  In New Zealand we don’t have many book festivals or events where we can meet authors and illustrators and hear about their work, but I always find it fascinating to hear about their passion for what they do and their reasons for creating a particular story.  A fascinating new book from Candlewick Press collects interviews with the world’s best illustrators and takes us inside their incredible minds.

Show Me a Story: Why Picture Books Matter features interviews with 21 of the world’s best illustrators, including Eric Carle, Maurice Sendak, Helen Oxenbury, Mo Willems, and Quentin BlakeLeonard S. Marcus (the editor of the book and the interviewer) takes you inside the minds of these extremely talented artists to find out why they do what they do, what influences them, and the truth behind the fiction.  Inside this entertaining and enthralling book you’ll discover how Quentin Blake came to be Roald Dahl’s illustrator, which author introduced Eric Carle to the world of picture books, and what Mo Willems learned from Charles Schulz.  As well as the interviews there are also a series of beautiful full-colour plates, showing each illustrators artistic process from sketch to final product.  Whether you’re a teacher, librarian, bookseller, student, or a lover of children’s literature Show Me a Story is a wonderful book and useful resource that you’ll delve into again and again.

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Filed under authors, books, children, Illustrators, picture books