Facts glorious facts make Christmas fun by various authors - book reviews -

Learning about the world and its wonders is fun and fascinating… and that’s a fact! There are a whole host of fantastic factual books for children on the shelves this autumn/winter season and with plenty to choose from, it’s guaranteed that you’ll find the perfect Christmas gift for your youngsters.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 12:30 pm
This Book is Full of Brains: All Kinds of Brains and How They Work
This Book is Full of Brains: All Kinds of Brains and How They Work

Age 8 plus:

This Book is Full of Brains: All Kinds of Brains and How They Work

Written by Little House of Science and illustrated by Josy Bloggs and Liz Kay

Forget the laptop! Did you know that every day, you have constant access to the ultimate super-computer… your brain? Join the boffins from the Little House of Science – organisers of fun after-school, interactive clubs, workshops and holiday camps teaching children about space, biology, engineering, geology and other subjects – for an access-all-areas tour of the body’s brilliant command centre. Using fun exercises and experiments that are easy to do at home, and presented with simple, easy-to-follow illustrations, This Book is Full of Brains is an awe-inspiring guide to our remarkable brains. Find out all about animal brains, dinosaur brains, robot brains and of course your own brain. With fascinating facts, easy-to-follow illustrations and fun experiments to try at home, this is the ultimate guide to brains everywhere. Discover the gruesome history of neuroscience, check out the inner workings of animal brains and find out all about the amazing things the brain can do. How fast can a thought travel, how do senses work, why do we sleep? Find out the answers to these questions and many more in this accessible guide which could be just the inspirational brainwave needed for a new generation of neuroscientists. Guaranteed to blow your mind!

(Buster Books, hardback, £9.99)

Age 7 plus:

Sunday Fun Day

Katherine Halligan and Jesús Verona

How would you like Sunday to be the best day of your week all year round? This gorgeous gift book, , published by Nosy Crow in collaboration with the National Trust, is bursting with fifty-two seasonal activities that families and friends can enjoy together. Gardening, crafting, cooking and outdoor activities are seasonally arranged to make the most of every time of the year, encouraging children to explore the natural world around them. From green-fingered gardening projects and outdoor obstacle courses to creative crafts and warming winter recipes, there is something for everyone, whatever the weather. Written by children’s author Katherine Halligan and packed with super seasonal activities for children (and adults!) of all ages, Sunday Fun Day is guaranteed to make every family weekend a fantastic one. Presented in a beautiful hardback format with a cloth binding and featuring the stunning full colour illustrations of Jesús Verona on every page, this is a family gift book to be treasured for years to come. Sunday fun days come rain or shine!

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £16.99)

Age 6 plus:

The Greeks: Hide-and-Seek History

Jonny Marx and Chaaya Prabhat

Discover the wonders of the ancient Greeks in a spectacular lift-the-flap book full of colour, learning and fun. Young imaginations will be set ablaze like the flame of Mount Olympus as they take a journey back in time in the pages of an innovative and entertaining book from the ever-inventive 360 Degrees, a non-fiction imprint of Little Tiger Group. With fantastic flaps under flaps revealing layers of information about this mysterious ancient culture, this is the ideal colourful and interactive way to discover amazing facts. Were charioteers the highest-paid athletes in history, how did Heracles slay the many-headed Hydra and did the Greeks invent the world's most bloodthirsty sport? Young readers will love discovering the truth behind some of the most incredible ancient Greek stories and superstitions, and unearthing the most fascinating aspects of an ancient culture. Full of Jonny Marx’s intriguing bite-sized facts, all brought to vivid life by the fabulously detailed illustrations of Chaaya Prabhat, there could be no better way to explore the past.

(360 Degrees, board book, £16.99)

Age 9 plus:

As Large As Life

Jonny Marx and Sandhya Prabhat

And also from the clever book boffins at 360 Degrees comes this spectacular global exploration of a staggering 250 animals and their amazing habitats. Written by Jonny Marx, who has worked on more than sixty factual books, and illustrated by independent animator and illustrator Sandhya Prabhat, As Large As Life is a compendium of wonder as readers meet the most sublime animals on the planet. From butterflies and boar to pufferfish and parrots, there is a whole host of astonishing animals to discover and 26 habitats to explore. Did you know that a sword-billed hummingbird has a beak longer than its body, that a giant anteater’s tongue can delve two feet into a termite mound in pursuit of food, or that a lion’s mane jellyfish can grow tentacles as long as three buses? See how nature sizes up, compare animals across the world in the enormous pull-out chart at the back of the book and revel in Prabhat’s breathtaking illustrations which bring the animal kingdom to life, from the sweltering savannah to the icy Arctic. Facts, fun and fantastic illustrations make this a gift book to enthral and to treasure.

(360 Degrees, hardback, £19.99)

Age 8 plus:

Inside In: X-Rays of Nature’s Hidden World

Jan Paul Schutten and Arie van 't Riet

See the world inside out and you’ll never look at nature the same way again! Children will love exploring the amazing, creepy X-rays of insects, reptiles, mammals and other creatures inside this stunning book. Inside In is written by Dutch author Jan Paul Schutten, translated by Laura Watkinson and illustrated by Arie van 't Riet, a Dutch artist and medical physicist who uses X-ray equipment to create ‘bioramas’ – X-ray portraits of animals and plants. Using incredible X-ray techniques, which van ‘t Riet became interested in while teaching the physics of radiation and radiation safety, this fascinating book displays creatures and their natural habitats in a never-before-seen way. Children learn the awesome answers to questions like what does a bee look like under its furry coat, how does a seahorse protect itself with armour and a skeleton, and how does a tree frog use its eyes to swallow? This visually dazzling and highly original book is ideal for accompanying home-schooling and online learning. The X-ray images are not just fun to look at but help youngsters to understand the inner workings of the animals and plants. With flashes of neon colours to bring extra life to the fascinating images, this is both a visual and an educational treat.

(Greystone Kids, hardback, £13.99)

Age 8 plus:

Oceanarium

Loveday Trinick and Teagan White

Step inside the pages of Oceanarium to enjoy the experience of a museum from the comfort of your own home. This stunning offering from the Welcome to the Museum series guides readers around the Oceanarium … home to an astonishing collection of more than two hundred sea creatures. This fantastic exploration of our ocean planet comes courtesy of the Big Picture Press as part of a series which enables readers to wander galleries from the comfort of home and discover a collection of curated exhibits on every page, all accompanied by informative text. In this eye-catching new tour, presented in the form of a large, high-quality book packed with amazing pictures and fascinating facts, we marvel at the world’s oceans, from sandy shorelines to the deepest depths. Get up close and personal with giant whale sharks, tiny tropical fish and majestic manatees, discover how some deep-sea dwelling animals produce their own light, travel the world from frozen Arctic seas to shimmering coral reefs, and learn why it is so important that we protect our oceans. Intricately detailed artwork by rising star Teagan White combines with an expert text by education officer Loveday Trinick from the UK’s National Marine Aquarium. A stunning exploration of our hidden underwater world, and a must-have for all animal enthusiasts.

(Big Picture Press, hardback, £25)

Age 10 plus:

The World of the Unknown: Monsters

Written by Carey Miller with a new foreword by Robin Ince

Are you brave enough to enter into the world of the unknown? The republishing of Usborne’s classic cult trilogy, The World of the Unknown, has reached its final, fearsome act with Monsters. First published back in 1977, this epic series, which inspired a generation’s curiosity and imagination, had thousands of superfans who signed petition in 2019 to bring back the books. And after the reappearance of Ghosts and UFOs, a new generation of youngsters can now enjoy the thrills and chills of this illustrated survey of imaginary and real monsters and monstrous beasts through the ages, including eye-witness reports and unsolved appearances. With a new foreword by comedian, actor and writer Robin Ince, the book remains otherwise unchanged from the original. Dive into mysteries such as whether the Loch Ness monster exists, learn about jackal-headed Egyptian gods, ship-crushing Krakens and the murderous Minotaur, and revel in stories of dragons and monsters from some of the most remote regions of the world. A monstrously good read!

(Usborne, paperback, £7.99)

Age 8 plus:

The World Book

Joe Fullman and Rose Blake

Where in the world would you like to visit? If you can’t decide, here’s your chance to take an epic tour of every single country in the world from the comfort of your armchair and along the way, explore different cultures, landscapes, and the best things to see, do and taste on this planet. The brilliantly clever World Book is an almanac of fascinating information, containing geography, history, food, sport, wildlife, art and culture. It is packed with facts, stats and flags of every country, no matter how big or small, and lets youngsters find out what life is like in other places and learn some key phrases in several languages. Discover how to say ‘good morning’ in Maltese, the most popular dishes in Colombian cuisine, and where you can see over sixty species of hummingbird. Journey across oceans, forests and deserts to seek out the tallest mountain, the longest river and everything in between. Joe Fullman provides all the fascinating facts and Rose Blake’s illustrations display the variety of the planet in glorious technicolour. It’s the world we call home and now you can find out some of its many secrets, wonders and gems!

(Welbeck, hardback, £19.99)

Age 8 plus:

A History of the World in 25 Cities

Written by Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Libby VanderPloeg

Discover what cities can teach us about our past – and be inspired to build a better future along the way – with this stunningly illustrated book of extraordinary city maps. A gorgeous, large-format gift hardback with a stunning neon cover, A History of the World in 25 Cities is published in collaboration with the British Museum and features twenty-five beautifully illustrated city maps from all over the world, from ancient history to the present day, and tells the story of human civilisation throughout history. Co-authored by award-winning writers Tracey Turner and Andrew Donkin, in consultation with specialist curators at the British Museum, readers can visit cities from every continent on Earth, from the walled city of Jericho built over 10,000 years ago to the modern-day metropolis of Tokyo, the most-densely populated city in the world today. Featuring the vibrant, beautifully detailed artwork of Libby VanderPloeg, each carefully researched map takes readers on a city tour at a unique moment in time… from exploring Athens in ancient Greece during the birth of democracy to walking the beautiful lamp-lit streets of medieval Benin, deep in the West African rainforest. Readers can even visit China’s long-lost capital city of Xianyang, a city for which no original map exists and which was painstakingly recreated with help from British Museum experts. Each map is followed by two illustrated pages of fascinating information about what life was (or is) like for the inhabitants of each city at the time, including a bite-sized look at each city in numbers. Packed with facts, this is the perfect gift for budding explorers and history fans.

(Nosy Crow, hardback, £16.99)

Age 11 plus:

Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species

Ana Pêgo, Isabel Minhós Martin and Bernado P. Carvalho

Most youngsters are aware that we have an invasive species in our oceans… plastic! And now comes this helpful and imaginative guide which is filled with tips and tricks for identifying – and combatting – pollution in our oceans. Inspired by marine biologist Ana Pêgo’s life’s work, and filled with engaging science and colourful photographs, this exploration of plastic pollution in the sea explains why it is such an urgent contemporary issue. When she was young, Pêgo didn’t play in a back yard but on a beach. She walked along the shore, looked at tide pools and collected fossils. As she grew older, Pêgo noticed a new species at the seaside… plastic. She decided to collect it, study it, and give it a Latin name – plasticus maritimus – to warn people of its dangers to our planet. And in this revealing book, she tells us how plastics end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans, shares plastic’s chemical composition and physical properties, and offers a field guide to help readers identify and understand this new invasive species in all its forms, from the obvious (fishing nets and water bottles) to the unfamiliar (tiny, clear particles called microplastics). Finally, she offers a critical look at our current ‘solutions’ to plastic contamination and in her most important proposal – revolutionise – she calls for profound changes in our habits, motivating young and old alike to make a difference… because together we can send plasticus maritimus packing!

(Greystone Kids, paperback, £9.99)

Age 6 plus:

It’s Up to Us: A Children’s Terra Carta for Nature, People and Planet

Written by Christopher Lloyd, illustrated by thirty-three artists and with a Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales

‘Children have a unique curiosity for Nature and for this amazing planet we call home,’ writes the Prince of Wales in his introduction to this inspirational book which encourages a new generation of children to help form their own action plan to save our endangered planet. It’s Up to Us, published by the innovative What on Earth Publishing, written by renowned author, lecturer and storyteller Christopher Lloyd, and illustrated by thirty-three award-winning artists from around the world, this is a lyrical and thought-provoking voyage through nature, the threats we face and an action plan for the future. With its simple but poetic language, and a cast of diverse characters, this beautiful picture book is based on the Terra Carta, a roadmap to sustainability, issued by Prince Charles and his Sustainable Markets Initiative. More than 400 corporations have already signed up, agreeing to put the health of nature, people and the planet at the heart of their activities. And now it’s up to all of us to make sure our leaders keep their promises! It’s Up to Us has been developed in partnership with The Prince’s Foundation, a charity established by the Prince of Wales to demonstrate how nature can be put at the heart of human activities. Half of all the proceeds from sales will go directly to the work of the charity.

(What on Earth Books, hardback, £16.99)

Age 3 plus:

William Bee’s Wonderful World of Things That Go!

William Bee

Vroom Vroom! Peep Peep! William Bee is just buzzing with excitement… the man who loves vehicles that go has his foot on the pedal and is raring to show us his weird and wonderful collection of trucks, trains, tractors, aeroplanes, submarines, rockets and more. This bumper gift book of all William’s favourite vehicles features his turbo-powered high speed truck, his fire truck, his super collection of tractors – from extra-wide to super-small – and his locomotives, as well as the rocket in which he travels to the moon and his super speedy speedboat (which gets stolen by his dog!). This ultimate manual (formerly published as three separate books) has a marvellous mix of fun and facts irresistible to little ones who have plenty to spot as they make an exciting whistlestop tour of William’s amazing collection. Whether the vehicles are steam-powered, coal-powered, petrol-filled or jet-propelled and travel by land, air, sea or space, there is something to enjoy for every young transport enthusiast. William will show you how they work and what they do so jump aboard and join William, his dog and his gang of unruly traffic cones on a grand tour of the world of transport. And have fun along the way spotting the toy rabbit hidden on every double page spread. A fantastic gift book and guaranteed to put your own little dynamos well and truly in the driving seat!

(Pavilion Books, hardback, £14.99)

Age one plus:

Britannica’s 150 First Words

Claire Laties Davis and Kasia Dudziuk

Get babies and toddlers talking all day long with a colourful board book of first words and phrases created by the experts at Britannica. Written by speech and language therapist Claire Laties Davis, and with an array of bold, bright, inclusive illustrations by Kasia Dudziuk, this engaging large-format board book encourages toddlers’ language learning through the repetition of simple words and phrases for everyday objects and activities. Take a trip around the world by following nine babies from different ethnic backgrounds through their daily routines. Under Laties Davis’ expert hand, dressing, mealtime, playtime, bathtime and more become opportunities for babies to learn new words and phrases. Each illustrated spread also includes photographs of a diverse cast of babies and everyday objects drawn into the art, creating a delightful search-and-find on every page to allow more time for parents and babies to connect. A fantastic word manual that puts fun and colour into learning!

(What on Earth Books, board book, £8.99)