Book Reviews: 2 ‘amazing’ non-fiction books for older primary kids

Amazing-Evolution-Book-Review1440Amazing Evolution: The Journey of Life

by Anna Claybourne & Wesley Robins, Illustrator  (Ivy Press, Murdoch Children’s Books, HB, RRP$29.99) Age Group 9-12 years

This book is fascinating—clearly organised and illustrated in a very informative way. From Chapter 1: What is Evolution to Chapter 4: Evolution in Action, the flow is engrossing and illustrations explanatory. Anna Claybourne’s writing style talks at exactly the right level for her audience with informative little break out boxes like:

You’re Half Cabbage!

You share a LOT of DNA with

 all kinds of other living things.

Around 50% of human DNA,

for example, matches the DNA

 in a cabbage plant.

Mary Anning.  Starting in 1811, when she was only 12 years old, famous fossil hunter Mary Anning unearthed several important new fossils…Her dog Tray helped her on her fossil-hunting trips.

At the back of this book is a Fact File ‘Amazing Adaptations’ plus a useful Index and Glossary. This is a book that every child should have in their reference ‘library’.


Amazing-TransportAmazing Transport: Journey through the history of transport

by Tom Jackson & Chris Mould, Illustrator (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, HB, RRP$24.99) Age Group 9-12 years

This book is about transportation through time, with a short mention of ‘where would we be without the wheel?’ in the introduction and developing each form of transport timeline over sets of 4 pages from Trains and Balloons to Working Vehicles and Submarines and in no apparent order.

The line drawings by Chris Mould are intricate and simple. With some nearly forgotten stories such as the Flying Monk from 1010 who leapt off a tower with bat-like wings, crash landing 200m below and breaking both legs!  The explanations along the timeline help arrange the storyline. With the layout on some pages reminiscent of the ‘Where’s Wally’ style but with no colour.

The use of black or white drawings against a pale background is overwhelmingly busy and makes the book not quite as engrossing as perhaps it could be. There is page numbering and a colour edging to help you find the mode of transport you might need to reference with the book appealing to children who enjoy being absorbed by the illustrations and not necessarily the text. The style of this book could also appeal to older boys who struggle with reading but love the intricate drawings.