Book Reviews

Kitten Corner: Really Informative Books for Older Readers

Okay, that’s a clunky title, but I wasn’t sure how else to round up the absolute smorgasbord of information in these gorgeous illustrated non-fiction titles. Little knowledge-seekers will be in heaven with these! All three books were sent to me free of charge, but all opinions are my own.

Eureka! by Jonathan Litton, illustrated by Wenjia Tang, from Little Tiger Books

Wow, this book is a dream! It’s actually hard to describe how much is going on in this jam-packed, vivacious book – it covers all kinds of discoveries from archaeology to space exploration to the depths of the sea. Every time you turn the page you are presented with some new and interesting fact – even as an adult – and seeing this wide range of subjects really took me back to primary school, when everything was interesting and there was so much to learn. It’s the kind of book that will really inspire kids to find history and science interesting, because they’re in everything. It feels magical to read and feel that sense of wonder about the world.

This could feel a bit chaotic, with each page filled with small paragraphs all on different topics around a central subject, but it’s kept cohesive by the artwork, which is gorgeously coloured, and by being grouped into larger themes like ‘history’ or ‘space’. It’s lovely to read all in one go, but would also be a great jumping-off point to find out more about any given discovery. It reminds me a little of The Humans, which I reviewed recently – I don’t believe they’re explicitly in the same series, but they have that same wealth-of-information vibe (and the hardbacks are the same size, so they’d make a lovely set).

There’s some discussion of the grey areas of ‘discovery’, which I enjoyed seeing – how do we know if someone really was the first person to find something? How do we acknowledge the white- and male-centred nature of so many disclipines and recognise that the men lauded for their discoveries may have been working on the back of unmentioned others, or may be declaring a discovery that’s been known for years to other cultures? Obviously, in keeping with the age range of the book, this isn’t an in-depth discussion, but it’s important that it’s noted throughout the book, as it will get readers thinking about the inherent issues of the ‘discovery’ label. I also love that there’s a note included that clearly states that our understanding of the world is changing all the time, both in terms of new discoveries and realising the issues with previous discoveries, and that they plan to update the book whenever needed to acknowledge this. It’s the right thing to do.

Find Tom in Time: Ancient Greece by Fatti Burke, from Nosy Crow

Tom’s back for another fabulous adventure, this time in Ancient Greece! I’ve reviewed his jaunts to Ancient China, Rome and Egypt before, and it’s safe to say this is another fabulous finding adventure. Digby the cat is up to his usual tricks, and Tom is lost in a number of intricately detailed scenes – it’s great fun to find them both, and see what else is going on in the bustling agora or at the doctor’s surgery. I don’t have much to say about this that you won’t find in my previous reviews, but I highly recommend this series for history lovers!

What a Wonderful Phrase by Nicola Edwards and Manu Montoya, from Little Tiger

This is the kind of book I loved as a kid, and still love now – an exploration of unusual idioms from around the world. Each spread offers an idiom from a different language, translated both literally and with its actual meaning, and some explanation of how it came to be like that; there are also some related linguistic or historical facts, and the whole is surrounded with a cute, quirky illustration of the saying. It’s the kind of book you can dip into or devour, and it’ll leave you full of the wonders of language and questioning all those odd sayings in English that you take for granted. My one complaint is that the title will get ‘Hakuna Matata’ stuck in your head for hours!

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