Non-Fiction Resource Books for the Primary Years Programme of Inquiry 

This is a list of books which we hope will be a useful resource for teachers and librarians for the Primary Years Programme of Inquiry of the International Baccalaureate. We have tried to choose books which do not have a narrow focus but which are trans-disciplinary in concept. Please contact us if you would like recommendations for books on specific subject areas, and at a particular age level. We have divided the list into the six organizing themes (though we realise that there can be considerable overlap between various themes) and have made up separate lists for fiction and non-fiction titles. We have given an indication of reading levels for each of the titles. Titles newly included in this updated list are marked •

Please Note All prices are in Australian dollars and include the 10% GST tax. However this GST does not apply to exports from Australia.

If you would like to order any of the books on the list, send the orders to Austral Ed by email. Payment can be made with bank cheques in Australian dollars, by direct bank transfer or by Credit card. Freight is sent by the most economical method within Australia or overseas, depending on urgency.

Recommended by Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke

Who we are

Around the World series: Playtime 9781845075552, Home 9781845075569, Bicycles 9781845075545 and Hair 9781845075538 by Kate Petty in association with Oxfam pb $15.95 each title
Also At School hb 9781845079758 $29.95 and Our Animals hb 9781845079741 $29.95 by Mike Petty
This series has a special charm and interest as the books show children from round the world living in a wide variety of homes, riding bicycles or playing many different games or with a marvellous variety of hair styles. The large detailed photos make for interesting discussion. The text is simply written and informative and in large clear type. These books could be used very effectively with beginner ESL students as there is much to discuss as well as to read. Suitable for preschool, beginner readers and ESL KS

Shoes Shoes Shoes by Ann Morris photographs by Ken Heyman pb 9780688161668 $13.00
The text is very simple but the photographs are fascinating and show us people from round the world wearing shoes which protect us, or are for fun or for work or sport or keep us warm. There are so many contrasts and so much to talk about. (4 – 6 years) KS

Healthy Kids by Maya Ajmera, Victoria Dunning & Cynthia Pon pb 9781580894371 $16.99
Large colourful photos show healthy children from around the world. The vibrant photos show the ways children can be healthy - eating nourishing food, drinking clean water, brushing their teeth and exercising. The text is very simple and written in large print. There is a lot to discuss with young children. (4 – 7 years) KS

• Look at This! Series by Ifeoma Onyefulu hb $27.95 each
Play 9781847802675
This very simple book has minimal text, with just one or two words for each double page photographic spread. The real-life photographs were taken in Mali, West Africa, and show many different ways that children play. Some games will be familiar to children around the world, like skipping and football, while others are traditional African games. A culturally diverse word book with lots to look at and talk about.
Food 9781847802651
Home 9781847802668
Clothes 9781847802644
(4-7 years) MC

To Be A Kid by Maya Ajmera & John D Ivanko pb 9780881068429 $14.00
This book was developed by the Global Fund for Children, a non-profit organization. There is minimal text but the many photographs on every page depict children from all around the world in diverse clothing and settings, going to school, sharing stories, dancing, spending time with their families and playing. It is a simple celebration of the importance of family, friends, learning, sharing and having fun. (4-7 years) MC

Come and Eat! By George Ancona hb 9781580893664 $32.00
A celebratory look at how and what different people around the world eat: knife and fork, chopsticks and fingers, or soup drunk directly from the bowl; noodles, tortilla (Mexican bread), momos (Tibetan dumplings), rice and fufu (cassava root). They’re all here, and more! Whether at the table or on mats on the floor, sharing food “invites friendship, laughter and good feelings”. Photographs on every page. (5-8 years) MC

Beginning and Endings with Lifetimes in between by Bryan Mellonie & Robert Ingpen (illus) pb 9780143501442 $17.99
This is a simply but beautifully written description of how for every living thing, there is a beginning and an ending and in between there is life. For some creatures, the life span is very short, for others it is long. Sometimes living things become ill and get hurt so badly that they can no longer stay alive. “This can happen when they are young, or old, or anywhere in between.” Death is not an easy subject to write about but Mellonie Bryan writes about it in a sensitive, straightforward way showing that it is all part of life and this makes it easier to understand and to wonder at. (4 years up) KS

W is for World by Kathryn Cave (in conjunction with OXFAM) pb 9781845073145 $16.95 big book 9781845070267 $44.95
A large number of countries are included and the daily life of adults and children is brought to life with simple text and stunning photographs. It is much more than just an alphabet book as it also has a message about people’s basic rights of shelter, food, water, health care and education. (5 - 9 years) KS
Similar beautifully photographed and informative titles in this series are
A is for Africa by Ifeoma Onyefulu pb 9780711210295 $16.95
B is for Bangladesh by Urmi Rahman and Prodeepta Da hb 9781845079185 $30.00
C is for China by Sungwan So pb 9781845073183 $16.95
E is for Ethiopia by Betelhem Alate hb 9781845078256 $30.00
I is for India by Prodeepta Das pb 9781845073206 $16.95
J is for Jamaica by Benjamin Zephaniah pb 9781845076092 $16.95
K is for Korea by Hyechong Chung and prodeepta Das pb 9781847801333 $16.95
M is for Mexico by Flor de Maria Cordero pb 9781847802576 $16.95
P is for Pakistan by Shazia Razzak and Prodeepta Das pb 9781847800893 $16.95
R is for Russia by Valdimir Kabakov and Prodeepta Das hb 9781847801029 $29.95
S is for South Africa by Beverley Naidoo and Prodeepta Das pb 9781847805027 $16.95
T is for Turkey by Nilufer Topaloglu Pyper and Prodeepta Das hb 9781845079987 $30.00
(5-9 years) KS

Deron Goes to Nursery School by Ifeoma Onyefulu hb 9781845078645 $30.00 pb 9781847802521 $20.00
Deron is four years old and he lives in Ghana. This book describes his first day at nursery school through simple text and colourful photos. (3 – 5 years) KS

Ikenna Goes to Nigeria by Ifeoma Onyefulu pb 9781845079604 $16.95
When Ikenna goes to Nigeria to visit the country where his mother was born he visits busy Lagos and also a quiet village. Excellent photographs show us many aspects of life in Nigeria. (6 – 10 years) KS

Prita Goes to India by Prodeepta Das pb 9781845074302 $16.95
This is the diary of Prita’s trip to India to meet her father and mother’s family. She describes her excitement on visiting the Taj Mahal, New Delhi and her many relatives in villages in Orissa. The excellent photos and interesting text give us many different impressions of life in India.
(6 – 10 years) KS

Shanyi Goes to China by Sungwan So pb 9781845077051 $16.95
This is Shanyi’s diary of her trip back to China. She visits her relatives in Hong Kong and also on nearby mainland China. Interesting text and vivid photographs give us many different impressions of life in China. (6 – 9 years) KS

Victoria Goes to Brazil by Maria de Fatima Campos hb 9781845079277 $30.00
This is the diary of Victoria’s trip to meet her relatives. (6 – 9 years) KS

• World Food Alphabet by Chris Caldicott hb 9781847802842 $29.95 pb 9781847806536 $16.95
This book is a photographic celebration of food from around the world, with two or three beautiful photos on each double page spread, accompanied by text about the different crops, dishes and ways of eating from every continent. There is also information on food waste, conservation and fair trade.
(6 – 9 years) MC

• Families Around the World by Margriet Ruurs & Jessica Rae Gordon hb 9781894786577 $32.00
Meet 14 different children and their families from all around the world, as shown on the illustrated map at the beginning of the book. The few short paragraphs on each double-page spread contain information about each child and their family, and the colourful illustrations also show us many things. We discover how diverse a family can be, how they spend their time together, the different foods they eat, clothes they wear and how they say hello in their language. The Glossary at the end shows how to pronounce the greeting at the top of each page and also gives the meaning of the various words in italics throughout the book. The attractive layout makes this an appealing book. (6-10 years) MC

For Every Child The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in words and pictures text adapted by Caroline Castle pb 9780099408659 $18.00
A beautiful picture book which restates in simple language fifteen of the most important Rights of the Child. Each Right of the Child is illustrated in a very different style by a different artist from round the world. There is much to discuss. (7 – 11 years) KS

We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures in association with Amnesty International hb 9781845076504 $27.95
This is a similar book to the title above, For Every Child, and it has the same idea of restating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and having each Right illustrated by a famous illustrator. However this book lists all 30 of the Articles of the Declaration of Human Rights. As a result this book is longer and the language is not so poetic. It is more suitable for older children. (9 – 14 years) KS

Wake Up, World! A Day in the Life of Children Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer hb 9780805062939 $34.00
An exploration of the lives of eight children each from different countries showing the similarities and contrasts as the children wake up, get dressed, go to school, play, have dinner and get ready for bed. The children come from Australia, Brazil, Ghana, India, Russia, Vietnam, UK and USA. There are very different levels of comfort in their way of living but the excellent photographs show us the vitality of the children, the strength of their family life and the ingenuity of their games. This is a very appealing photographic picture book celebrating the diversity of the children of the world. (7 - 11 years) KS

Let’s Eat! Children and their Food Around the World by Beatrice Hollyer hb 9780805073225 $34 The format is similar to Wake Up, World! with a slightly more difficult text. Children in South Africa, Mexico, Thailand, France, and in India describe the food they eat on an ordinary day and the special food they love to eat when there is a festive occasion. There are many contrasts and similarities to discuss. (8 – 11 years) KS

Our World of Water by Beatrice Hollyer pb 9781845079734 $16.95
This book also has a similar format to the two titles above but looks at the very different ways in which six children from different parts of the world use water. Some children need only turn on a tap and fresh clean water comes flowing out for baths, for cooking or for gardens. Other families walk for hours each day in order to fetch enough water for their own needs and for their animals. Water for these children and their families is very precious. The daily life of these children and their families is also described and in addition there is a list of some additional facts about water at the end of the book. (7 – 11 years) KS

• When I was a Girl in Sudan by Paskalina Eiyo with Sarafino Enadio and Terry Whitebeach pictures by Gay McKinnon pb 9780992384814 $15.00 and
• When I was a Boy in Sudan by Sarafino Enadio with Terry Whitebeach pictures by Gay McKinnon pb 9780992384807 $15.00
These are special stories, told by Sudanese refugees about their traditional childhood in Sudan. Sarafino Enadio’s story describes how the children would go out all day to guard the crops of sorghum and maize from the birds and animals. They had to be inventive in making lots of noise to frighten away the birds and sometimes baboons, monkeys and squirrels. The story depicts vividly the children’s life and the strong sense of community. In Paskalina’s story, the work of the girls is described: how they helped prepare meals, gathered food from the garden and ground the grain. In each book, the engaging illustrations give us further insights into the traditional way of Ma’di village life in Sudan. (6 – 11 years) KS

Children Just Like Me by Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley In Assoc with UNICEF hb 9780789402011 $36.00
This is a celebration of children round the world. We learn about the lives of 36 children from round the world. Where they live, their families, their hobbies etc are shown through expressive photographs and a lively text. This book gives a feeling for the very wide range of peoples and cultures in different countries throughout the world. (7 – 11 years) KS

A Life Like Mine: How Children Live Around the World by UNICEF pb 9780756618032 $23.00
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the basic needs of all children and this book explores how these needs are met in countries throughout the world. The book is divided into sections on Survival, Development, Protection and Participation and also on Education, Play, Love and Care and Work. The excellent photographs of children round the world show the diversity of their lives. It provides a good introduction to some very complex questions. (8 - 12 years) KS

A School like Mine: A unique celebration of schools around the World hb 9780756629137 $36.00
Published in 2007, this book follows the same format as the title A Life Like Mine. Children from schools around the world describe their school, what they learn, the time it takes to travel to the school and they also talk about their teachers, friends and family. Lively photographs show the school buildings, school equipment and the children at their lessons and play. Some schools are very poor with little in the way of equipment. Others are wealthy. This is a beautifully presented book giving insight into children from around the world and the schools they attend. (6 – 12 years) KS

A Faith like Mine: A celebration of the world’s religions – seen through the eyes of children by Laura Buller hb 9780756611774 $36.00
This book has the same format as A Life Like Mine and A School Like Mine. The principal religions from round the world are discussed in general terms and then more details of the beliefs of each religion are given as well as examples of how children in many different countries practise and celebrate their faith. There is also additional information about faiths such as Jainism and Bahai, which have a smaller number of followers. (8 – 13 years) KS

My School in the Rainforest: How Children Attend School Around the World by Margriet Ruurs hb 9781590786017 $24.95
Thirteen very different schools around the world are described. In Australia some children in remote areas stay at home and learn through the School of the Air, now combining radio and the internet. In Cambodia the school is a floating one on the huge lake, the Tonle Sap. The school in Kenya has no roof but is held under a shady tree. In Myanmar the school is in a monastery and in Kuala Lumpur the school is a wealthy international school. The text gives a brief description of each school and also describes one or two of the students and the activities they enjoy. Photographs show the children and also the school. A map, flag and brief additional information about each country is also included.
(8 – 12 years) KS
Margriet Ruurs has also written another book about children, books and mobile libraries around the world with the intriguing title of My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are brought to Children Around the World hb 9781590780930 $27.95
This picture book also has a similar format and there are examples from thirteen countries of how books are transported to remote areas by bus, boat, train, elephant, donkey or camel. (7 – 12 years) KS

Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around he World by Susan Hughes pb 9781926818863 $23.00
This fascinating book tells the stories of some very unusual schools around the world. Each double page spread features one school which has overcome many challenges to ensure that the children have an opportunity to receive an education. These schools are often situated in poor and remote areas of the world. One example is the boat schools which service a 250km stretch of rivers and streams in Bangladesh where students can miss months of school during the monsoon season due to floods. There’s a school which travels by sledge from camp to camp teaching the children of Siberia’s nomadic indigenous Evenk peoples; a school in a cave in the isolated mountain village of Dongzhong in southwest China, and one in the remote village of Xixuau deep in the Brazilian rainforest, five days by canoe to the closest city. There is a small location map in the top corner of each page and many photos, as well as a double page world map showing the locations of all the schools in the book.
(9-12 years) MC

Beatrice’s Dream A Story of Kibera Slum by Karen Lynn Williams, photographs by Wendy Stone pb 9781847804181 $16.95
This is a description of Beatrice’s life in the huge slum district in Nairobi where conditions are very muddy in winter and very dry and dusty in summer. Beatrice is thirteen-years old girl and she lives with her brother’s family since both her parents died. The text is simple and is told in Beatrice’s own words. There is not much description of Kibera but it is clear from the large photographs that this is a bustling lively community where people live extremely close together with few amenities. Although the living conditions are very poor, Beatrice is optimistic about her future. (8 – 11 years) KS

Wonderful Houses Around the World by Yoshio Komatsu illustrated by Akira Nishiyama pb 9780936070346 $15.00
Yoshio Komatsu is a Japanese photographer who travels the world taking photographs of houses. All the houses in this book are built of natural materials; earth, wood, thatch, bamboo and stone. There are houses from China, Mongolia, India, and Indonesia. There is a photograph of a yurt in Mongolia and then illustrations show us inside, how the yurt is constructed and how it functions and we learn some of the family’s activities inside. In China, an amazing large round earthen building called a tulou where three hundred people live over four floors is described. The illustrations give us an idea of how the people live and how the building functions. (8 - 15 years) KS

If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche hb 9780547238920 $32.00
Expanding on the motif “If you lived here”, Laroche invites readers to visualise life in sixteen different styles of dwellings in various regions of the world, from half-timbered houses common in the C12th to Chilean stilt houses; prehistoric Mongolian yurts to a late C20th Dutch floating house, mechanised and operating on environmentally green architectural principles. Vibrantly illustrated in bas-relief collage, each entry is accompanied by a conversational child-focussed experience of life “If you lived here…” Further information on each style - House Type, Materials, Location, Date, and Fascinating Facts - round out Laroche’s overview of domestic architecture and global cultures. This is an intriguing glimpse of history through world architecture and environment. (8 years up) LB

Families and Their Faiths series pb $12.95 each
This is an engaging series of books about the religious beliefs of young children. The books are narrated by the grandparents. In Hinduism in Bali Yoni’s grandmother describes how Yoni goes to school and how they make offerings together to their gods every day and larger offerings for special ceremonies. The large photographs are very appealing and add to the text by showing the relationship between Yoni and her family and the clothes and customs of the village in which they live. Two pages of Notes for Parents and Teachers at the end of the book give additional background information about Hinduism in Bali.
Titles in the series Families and Their Faiths are:
Buddhism in Thailand 9780778750239
Christianity in Mexico 9780778750246
Hinduism in Bali 9780778750253
Islam in Turkey 9780778750260
Sikhism in India 9780778750284
Judaism in Israel 9780778750277 (7 – 10 years) KS

Lighting Our World: A Year of Celebrations by Catherine and Jacqui Oakley hb 9781554535941 $35.00
This book looks at festivals that celebrate light throughout the world. Well-known religious festivals such as Divali and Hanukkah and Ramadan are described and also more unusual traditions. The book moves through the year chronologically and at least two celebrations feature for each month. The illustrations are lively. A glossary is also included. KS (8 – 11 years)

Really Really Big Questions about Faith written by Dr Julian Baggini illustrated by Nishant Choksi hb 9780753431511 $24.99
What is faith and does God Exist and if so what does he or she look like? These are big questions and Dr Julian Baggini discusses them using fairly simple terms but the concepts are often very difficult. The book takes a philosophical approach in encouraging children to make up their own minds about particular questions after showing that there are a number of different ways of looking at the question. It would be a helpful guide for teachers wanting to discuss religions of the world and the accompanying big ideas about faith. (10 – 15 years) KS

What Makes Me Me? By Robert Winston pb 9781405358033 $16.95
This book is a dynamic and different look at how our bodies work and what makes each of us a unique person. It also looks at what our bodies are made of and discusses some of the complexities of how our brains work. There are fascinating sections on personality traits, multiple intelligences, body language, dreams and phobias. There are also a number of tests for genes, memory as well as verbal, spatial and numerical skills and for personality. (10 – 14 years) KS

This Child, Every Child by David J Smith & Shelagh Armstrong hb 9781554534661 $34 Another fascinating book from the team behind If the World Were a Village hb 9781554535958 $29.00
On each double-page spread there is a boxed child-friendly version of an Article from the 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the theme of each Article is reflected in the statistics and fictional profiles of children from all around the world. We take a look at children and their families, homes, health, education, gender equality, work, war and play. Disturbingly, the reality of life for many children falls well short of the Convention’s vision and goals. This provides a valuable tool for understanding that millions of children lack the basic rights and opportunities that many take for granted. At the end of the book there is a child-friendly version of all of the Articles in the Convention, followed by a couple of pages of topics to prompt discussion. (8-12 years) MC

Three Cups of Tea (Young Readers’ Edition) by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin adapted by Sarah Thompson pb 9780143304630 $19.95
The adult version of this book Three Cups of Tea pb 9780141034263 $26.95 has been extremely popular and well known since it was first published some years ago. It is the remarkable story of a mountaineer who in 1993 after a disastrous attempt to climb K2, wandered exhausted and dehydrated into an impoverished village in Pakistan. There the villagers nursed Greg back to health and he was so moved by their kindness that he vowed to return and build a school for their children. That happened in 1993 and since then he has set up a fund and built many more schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Young Readers’ Edition has many photographs of children from the villages and also of his own family who have also become involved with this endeavour. There are also maps and a question and answer section with Greg’s daughter Amira and a Timeline and a Glossary. Children will find it an inspiring story. (9 – 14 years) KS

Where we are in place and time

Houses and Homes by Ann Morris, photographs by Ken Heyman hb 9780688101688 $32.00 pb 9780688135782 $11.00
The very simple text is contrasted by the complexity of the photos which show a wonderful variety of houses and homes from round the world. (4 – 7 years) KS

Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325 – 1354 by James Rumford pb 9780618432332 $12.00
This is the most amazing story of Ibn Battuta who at the age of 21 left his home in Morocco to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. However he continued on travelling to Jerusalem, Persia, south by sea to Delhi, on to China and finally reached Morocco again after an amazing 29 years. This picture book is beautifully illustrated with detailed maps showing his travels and the world as it looked in 1325. (8 – 12 years) KS

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela: Abridged by Chris Van Wyk, illustrated by Paddy Bouma pb 9781447275541 $16.99
This is the autobiographical story of Nelson Mandela’s life retold for children. It is the inspiring story of his childhood, his schooling, his involvement in the struggle against apartheid, his time in prison and finally his appointment as President of South Africa. The excellent illustrations add to the understanding of his extrordinary life and his fight for freedom. (8 – 13 years) KS

Fly on the wall series: Viking Longship by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom pb 9781847806246 $20.00
This is a lively historical series for younger readers. The illustrations and their annotations are a vital part of this story which depicts vividly the life of a small group of warriors and their children who left their lands and settled in England. It is a lively portrayal of everyday life and battles and sea journeys. There is also a detailed glossary and index giving much archaeological information. (8 – 12 years) KS
Pharoah’s Egypt pb 9781847806239 $20
Greek Hero pb 9781847806222 $20
Roman Fort pb 978184786253 $20

Tough Stuff: True Stories about Kids and Courage by Kirsty Murray pb 9781864489293 $15.95
A fast paced and inviting collection of short stories about children who have done amazing things. It includes the story of Iqbal Masih the 12 year old Pakistani bonded carpet maker who led a movement for children’s rights, as well as stories about exceptional children including those who saved lives, or were geniuses, earned a fortune or survived war and oppression. (9 - 14 years) KS

Three Wishes: Palestianian and Israeli children speak out by Deborah Ellis pb 9780888996459 $18.00
In 2002, Deborah Ellis talked to many children in Palestine and Israel about their daily lives, their frustrations and their hopes for the future. In this book Deborah Ellis records what these children said. Many of these stories are extremely moving and revealing of the suffering of children living under at times under great difficulties. Deborah Ellis has also written a short introduction to the present day situation in Palestine and Israel. (11 – 15 years) KS

Alexander the Great: Reckless Conqueror by Carole Wilkinson pb 9781876372330 $18.99 Carole Wilkinson brings to life the incredible story of Alexander the Great’s short life by alternating factual description with short fictional reconstructions of particular events. There is fascinating description of his early life and also of the major battles and the reasons why Alexander was so successful in his battles. There are many illustrations and maps and also brief quotes from some of the historians some years after Alexander’s death. (10 – 16 years) KS

Shipwrecked! The true adventures of a Japanese boy by Rhoda Blumberg pb 9780688174859 $16.00
The amazing story of Manjiro, a 14 year old boy who was working as a fisherman when the boat he was on was shipwrecked in the early 1800s. He was picked up by an American whaler and ended up in America where he received an education. After working on another whaler and then in the Californian goldfields, he decided to risk returning to Japan. He was imprisoned but when later released his knowledge played an important part in negotiations with Commodore Perry who at that time was forcing Japan to open its ports. Manjiro was awarded samurai status, something unheard of for anyone from such an impoverished and lowly background. The story is all the more fascinating because of the use of beautiful Japanese woodblocks depicting Japanese life at that time, and detailed illustrations showing life on board an American whaler. This is a fascinating story, giving us insight into a period of Japanese history and also into whaling in the early 1800s. (9 – 16 years) KS

Eyewitness series from DK $14.99
The following titles are very well presented and give much information about the various civilisations through paintings, photos and illustrations. They are great for browsing and for gaining an impression of the life and culture of these civilisations. Titles are:
Ancient Egypt pb 9781409343783
Ancient Rome pb 9780241187753
Medieval Life pb 9781405345453
Tudor pb 9780241187586
Victorians pb 9780241187593
WW1 pb 9781409343660
WW2 pb 9781409343677 (8 – 13 years) KS

Through Time: London From Roman Capital to Olympic City by Richard Platt & Manuela Cappon (illus) hb 9780753417331 $19.99 pb 9780753431061 $14.99
London is the vibrant hub of the English speaking world and this book shows how London gained that position and has maintained it for so many years. The Contents page is laid out as a Time line from Neolithic times in 3500 BCE through to the time of the Romand in 43 CE, to the Vikings and through other important events such as the age of print in 1476 CE, Shakespeare’s London in 1602 CE, the Great Fire, the Industrial era, the Blitz of World War 2 and finally to the London of today. A double paged spread for each period shows a very detailed scene from that time through lively illustrations and Platt gives an additional description. There are cross-sections of buildings etc showing us how buildings etc were constructed. There are maps as well as a Glossary and an Index. (8 – 14 years) KS
Also in a similar format by Richard Platt & Manuela Cappon (illus):
Through Time Beijing hb 9780753415764 $19.99
Through New York City hb 9780753419113 $19.99
Through Time Pompeii hb 9780753413869 $19.99
Through Time Olympics From Ancient Greece to the Present Day hb 9780753430743 $29.99

From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers: Architecture for Children by Christine Paxmann & Anne Ibelings (illus) hb 9783791371139 $36.00
This large format book with its clear detailed illustrations is an excellent introduction to the way architecture has developed and changed over many thousands of years. Beginning with the simplest of houses in caves or built of mud, it moves through the marvels of Egyptian, Greek and Roman buildings of Antiquity through the Middle Ages to Modern Times. There are 25 examples of buildings, mainly from Europe. A Timeline at the end of the book summarises the particular periods and what was happening in the world when each building was created. (10 – 15 years) KS

The Usborne Introduction to Archaeology - Internet-Linked by Abigail Wheatley and Struan Reid hb 9780746094976 $26.99 Published in 2004.
This very interesting book looks at examples of famous archaeological excavations round the world by continent. It also describes how archaeologists work and some the difficulties they face when excavating sites, whether underground or underwater. It discusses some of the painstaking detective work necessary and also some of the latest technological advances in dating, conserving and reconstructing the past. (10 – 16 years) KS

The Usborne Introduction to the First World War by Ruth Brocklehurst and Henry Brook hb 9780746076552 $33.00
This is an excellent introduction to the complex causes and events of World War 1. As well as describing the fighting on the western front, there are also detailed descriptions of the eastern front against the Russians and the fighting in Italy and Rumania and also the Ottoman Empire especially in Gallipolli and Palestine. The many photographs, illustrations, paintings and maps help bring a greater understanding of the horror of this terrible conflict. There is also a detailed description of the political turmoil which occurred after the War. It is shown that this was sometimes as a result of the new boundaries drawn after the Treaty of Versailles but also because of the many new political ideas. (11 – 16 years) KS
Also Usborne Introduction to the Second World War by Paul Dowswell hb 9780746062067 $33.00

Upside Down World Map in envelope 9781865001081 $9.95 Laminated 9781865001104 $44.95 Drawn from the perspective of those living in the southern hemisphere, the Upside Down World Map is centred round the Pacific Ocean, thereby giving Asia and Australia a prominent position and relegating Europe to a small group of countries in the far top left hand corner of the map. It promotes some interesting discussion about the history of cartography and how this has affected our perspective of the world. (8 years up) KS

How we express ourselves

Spotty Stripy, Swirly: What are patterns? Clever Concepts series by Jane Brocket hb 9780761346135 $36.95
Wonderfully colourful photographs show us a variety of patterns seen in boxes of vegetables, in plants and flowers, in hand made crochet work and quilts, in tiles, buildings and paving. The text is simple while encouraging us to look and observe the many different sorts of patterns in nature and also the patterns that we can make ourselves just by the way we arrange lollies or buttons or in the way a cake is decorated. This book will encourage children to see patterns in everyday objects and the natural world and to be aware of how they can make their own. (3 – 6 years) KS
Also in the same series are:
Circles, Stars, and Squares: Looking for Shapes hb 9780761346111 $36.95
Ruby, Violet. Lime: Looking at Colors hb 9780761346128 $36.95
Spiky, Slimy, Smooth: What is Texture? hb 9780761346142 $36.95

Drama School byMick Manning and Brita Granstrom pb 9781845078461 $18.00
Manning has set out this book as though he is conducting a drama course and he takes children through a wide variety of projects and activities. This book is absolutely full of ideas, hints and tips for children and will extend their interest and their skills, either at home or at school. There are ideas for producing an entertaining show, for developing acting skills, and also for creating costumes and sets.
(8 – 12 years) KS

• The House That Sonabai Built: Looking at Art series by Vishakha Chanchani & Stephen P Huyler (photographer) pb 9789350466278 $22.00
This picture book tells the true story of Sonabai, married at a young age and living in a small village in India. Forbidden by her husband to go to the markets or socialise with neighbours, she was very lonely and started making animals, birds and people from clay for her young son. She used ground spices, leaves and vegetables to colour her creations and started decorating the walls of the house; her home became her sculpture studio and, then, an art gallery. She created a lattice framework from bamboo sticks, then coated the bamboo with a thin layer of clay. She installed the lattice between the pillars of her verandah, then painted it and decorated it with birds and figures. The light filtering through into the house was now soft and dappled and transformed the house into a magical place. When four people from the centre for arts in Bhopal stumbled upon this wonderland, shy Sonabai became famous and travelled all over India exhibiting her work, conducting workshops and inspiring others to experiment and create. (9-12 years) MC

Renoir and Me by Mila Boutan pb 9781408123843 $24.99
This is a fascinating look at the types of paintings created by Jean Renoir, the famous Impressionist painter. The discussion centres round the warmth and intimacy of so many of Renoir’s paintings and how this was achieved by the artist. His unique style is also contrasted with the work of some of the artists who painted in about the same period. The text also gives some of details about Renoir’s life and family. (9 – 15 years) KS

Look! Zoom in on Art! by Gillian Wolfe pb 9780711220218 $20.00
This is an exceptional book which encourages us to look carefully at paintings and makes us think about the different ways artists paint when they attempt to portray perspective, movement, emotion and many other complex ideas. (8 – 15 years) KS
Also: Look! Seeing the Light in Art pb 9781847800381 $25.00
This fascinating book makes us think about how light is used in a variety of paintings under headings such as dramatic, cold and hot, dappled, reflected and patterns. At the end of the book there are brief background notes to each of the eighteen paintings. (8 – 15 years)
Look ! Body Language in Art pb 9781845071141 $20.00
This book has a similar format the other two titles and looks at the way body language is expressed in seventeen famous paintings. (8 – 15 years)
Look! Drawing the Line in Art hb 9781845078249 $35.00
This book shows the importance of line in drawing and how a line can be delicate or strong, can be symmetrical or can capture emotion. It looks at 18 pictures and shows how artists use line in very different ways. (8 – 15 years)
Look! Really Smart Art by Gillian Wolfe pb 9781847804143 $17.95
This book focuses our attention on the very different clever effects that artists can create. There is the 3D trick that Escher used to create an unbelievably life-like pair of hands that look as though the hands are three dimensional against a flat surface and the art of perspective which makes David Hockney’s Going up Garroby Hill look as though the road curves down before going up the hill to disappear into the distance. There are also examples of digital computer art by Akiyoshi Kitaoka and the pop style art of Roy Lichtenstein and many others. (9 – 16 years) KS

Stitching Stories: The art of embroidery in Gujerat by Nina Sabnani pb 9788181469618 $22.00
This is the remarkable story of how two craftswomen have used their traditional needlework to tell stories about their lives while making beautiful narrative art. As Raniben says “Before I used to stitch just to make patterns. But now I think about what I want to say through my stitches.” Through photographs of her embroidered narrative panels, we see the story of how she and her family left their village in Pakistan, crossing the harsh desert to live in the Kutch region in Gujerat. Meghiben describes how she and Raniben work together and exchange ideas while photographs show the beautiful work they make through embroidery and applique. The final four pages of the book describe through text and photographs many examples of embroidery work and some of the many styles from particular regions. This is a beautiful book giving us an insight into a traditional art and the way it has been become narrative art and a new creative way to tell stories. (10 years up) KS

Children of the World: how We Live, Learn & Play in Poems, Drawings & Photographs by Anthony Asael & Stephanie Rabemiafara hb 9780789322678 $39.95
The authors of this book are the founders of a project called Art in All of Us. Between 2005 and 2009 they visited 310 schools in 192 countries, holding artistic workshops for children of all ages, collecting 25,000 pieces of art! This book is the culmination of that amazing experience. Arranged in alphabetical order by country, each double-page spread shows a drawing and a poem (translated into English) created by local children, a map showing the geographical location of each country and a photograph of local children. There are also very brief snippets telling us which languages are spoken, foods eaten and sports played. The drawings and poems are credited with the child’s name and age (mostly 9-12 year olds), and the poems are also reproduced in the original handwriting and language. At the back of the book are brief country statistics and credits. This is a fascinating, positive, uplifting book promoting cross-cultural understanding and creativity. (7-15 years) MC

The Art Book for Children One hb 9780714845111 $24.95
This book looks at the artworks of thirty very different artists, ranging from the Middle Ages to very modern times. It asks children to think about the reasons why the artists chose to paint or create in that style. It explores the various ideas, meanings, roles and functions of art by looking at painting, sculpture, prints and photography and helps develop children’s understanding of colour, form, texture and pattern. A great introduction to the world of art for children.
Art Book for Children Two hb 9780714847054 $24.95 has a similar format and is just as absorbing. It introduces artworks from another 30 artists in a way that helps children to think creatively.
(8 - 15 years) KS

21st Century Art for Kids by Queensland Art Gallery hb 9781921503221 $35.00
Contemporary artists from round the world are asked to share their stories about how they came to be an artist. As well as a photograph of each artist as a child, the artist talks a little about what they liked to do as a child and why they became an artist. This is followed by an example of their art and an example of an activity for children which relates to the style of art. There are contemporary artists from Mexico, Japan, France, Germany, Benin, Canada and China, as well as a number of examples of artists from Australia, including Indigenous artists. (9 – 13 years) KS

The Book of Languages by Mick Webb pb 9781445134277 $19.99
This fascinating book looks at 21 of the world’s languages. It starts with a brief history of language and why it is important, and looks at language families, giving a breakdown of the main ones – Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic, Austronesian, etc. Then each double-page spread looks at a different language, providing a short history, pronunciation points, numbers, greetings and a few phrases, basic information on grammar and other matters, and a map showing where it is spoken in the world. Running down the side of the page is the alphabet of that language with a phonetic pronunciation of each letter in English. There is also a chapter about non-verbal languages such as smoke signals, drumming, sign language, semaphore and Morse code, and a brief look at how some animals communicate. You’ll find a Glossary and Index at the end of the book. (While the main text is suitable for children of about 10-12 years many aspects of this book such as greetings and numbers could be used with younger children). MC

Understanding Roman Myths (Myths Understood series) by Robin Johnson pb 9780778745150 $15.95
The book combines history, culture and everyday life in Rome with brief retellings of a number of Roman myths and a wealth of information about Roman myths. There are many photographs of extraordinary Roman mosaics, sculpture and architecture. It also includes a Time Chart, Glossary and Index. A very informative series. (10 – 15 years) KS
Also in the series are
Understanding Chinese Myths pb 9780778745129 $15.95
Understanding Egyptian Myths pb 9780778745136 $15.95
Understanding Greek Myths pb 9780778745143 $15.95
Understanding Indian Myths pb 9780778745297 $15.95
Understanding Mesoamerican Myths pb 9780778745303 $15.95

How the world works

Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller pb 9780698117785 $16.00
Such a beautiful book where each page is designed so that the text and the bright, bold illustrations complement each other perfectly. Heller’s prose is simple but has a rhythm as it tells us that chickens aren’t the only to lay eggs since snakes, crocodiles, dinosaurs and so many other creatures are also egg layers. (4 – 6 years) KS

Just a Second: A Different Way to Look at Time by Steve Jenkins hb 9780618708963 $24.99 You will be amazed at what can happen in one second – a bat can make 200 high-pitched calls, a hummingbird beats its wings 50 times. And in one minute, a hungry horned lizard can eat 45 ants, one at a time. Packed with bite-sized fascinating facts, each accompanied by an illustration in Jenkins’ usual cut-paper collage style, this book takes an unusual look at how time passes and how we measure it. All the measurements are in both imperial and metric. (5 - 8 year olds) MC

Animal Architects: Amazing Animals Who Build Their Homes by Daniel Nassar & Julio Antonio Blasco (illus) hb 9781780676531 $22.99
This fascinating book explores how different birds, animals and insects from around the world build their homes. Monarch butterflies, chimpanzees, termites, gladiator frogs, satin bowerbirds, honeybees, African tree frogs, beavers and more – all build such amazing and clever structures to protect and feed themselves and raise their young. Each double page spread contains beautiful illustrations of the animal and its home, with lots of facts about how and where they build, and there is a fold-out panel with stats and information about habitat, behaviour, feeding, enemies and materials used, along with a simple architectural diagram. (6-10 years) MC

Egg: Nature’s Perfect Package Steve Jenkins & Robin Page (illus) hb 9780547959092 $24.99
This engaging, accessible and informative book looks at an amazing variety of eggs laid by an equally amazing variety of birds, insects, sea creatures, reptiles, spiders, and two mammals – the echidna and the platypus. Some lay just one or two eggs, others millions, in many different shapes, colours and sizes. I was fascinated by the different places that these creatures place their eggs, and how they care for them until they hatch. Each egg contains everything needed to create a new living creature. At the back is a double page spread with information about the size, habitat and diet of each of the creatures in the book. (7-10 years) MC

Science School by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom pb 9781845078423 $19.00
This book is full of simple experiments that children can do at home or at school. Granstrom’s illustrations are amusing and informative. There are also suggestions for many things that children can make. The book was short listed for the Royal Society Junior Science Prize. (8 – 12 years) KS

How Did I Begin? by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom pb 9780749656614 $16.99
Manning and Granstrom manage to convey factual information simply, clearly and always with humour. Illustrations are always informative as well as being humorous. (7 – 10 years) KS

Let’s Talk about Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends by Robie H Harris & Michael Emberley (illus) pb 9781406306064 $27.95
A book which answers the many questions young children ask about their bodies, how babies are made and growing up. The engaging illustrations are at times humorous but also provide additional information to the clear, accurate and lively text. (7 – 10 years) KS

Usborne Facts of Life: Growing Up by Susan Meredith pb 9780746031421 $15.00
This is a very straight forward, non-threatening but informative small book which gives reassuring answers to the many questions for children going through adolescence. It contains information on the role of hormones, sex, contraception, sexually transmitted infections and drugs as well as advice on healthy eating, exercise and hygiene. (11 – 15 years) KS
Understanding the Facts of Life contains Growing Up and also Babies pb 9780746031438 $25.00

Human Body Encyclopedia: First Reference for Young Readers and Writers pb 9781405358057 $23.00
This book gives an overview of the human body and the amazing ways in which it works. Photographs and diagrams show what is happening inside and outside and as well as details on how the body works. There is also information on keeping healthy. (9 – 12 years) KS

The Volcano Book: Erupting Near You by Dr Gill Jolly pb 9781742030272 $16.99
Research scientist Dr Gill Jolly describes how a volcano comes about and then gives detailed descriptions of the many different types of volcanoes round the world as well as examples of a number of eruptions and when they occurred. The excellent use of photos, maps and diagrams add to our understanding of the very different types of volcanic eruptions and of the devastation they can cause. (8 – 12 years) KS

Can you feel the Force? by Richard Hammond pb 9781405358064 $23.00
A dynamic and extremely interestingly presented book about Physics and the forces which make our world the way it is. Hammond has a lively and exciting way of talking about forces. He describes Newton’s laws by demonstrating what happens when you go for a ride on your bike. He gives some of the history behind efforts to understand the problem and gives examples demonstrating its use. Looks at the composition of Matter and also discusses Light and its many complexities and mysteries. (9 – 15 years) KS

Think of a Number by Johnny Ball pb 9781405358026 $23.00
This is fascinating look at the world of numbers. Those students that love numbers will love it whereas others (like me) will get lost fairly quickly. However it covers a wide range of information about history of numbers, magic numbers, shapes and the world of maths in a lively and inviting format and it shows the amazing complexity of the world of numbers. There are many tricks, mazes and mathematical problems. (10 years up) KS

The Usborne Internet-Linked Library of Science series.
This is a very helpful series. Suggested experiments and observations are also included and there are many illustrations, graphs and photos. Attractively presented, with clear explanations of many scientific terms and also links to tested and approved web sites. (9 – 12 years) KS
The complete list of titles in The Usborne Internet-Linked Library of Science series are:
Animal World pb 9780746046227 $16.95
Energy, Forces and Motion pb 9780746046302 $20.00
Human Body pb 9780746046203 $20.00
Mixtures and Compounds pb 9780746046289 $20.00
Materials pb 9780746046265 $20.00
World of Plants pb 9780746046166 $20.00

What’s Chemistry all About? By Alex Frith and Dr Lisa Jane Gillespie illustrated by Adam Larkhum pb 9781409547075 $19.99
This is an excellent introduction to chemistry. It covers a vast amount of information in an accessible and interesting way. The information is clearly set out and the engaging and often funny illustration and diagrams, cartoons, graphs, tables etc do really help make in making the subject comprehensible (even to me). The list of contents comprises the following topics: What’s the world made of? How does it all work? Let’s make things happen, How is Chemistry useful? Our Chemical Universe and finally a section on additional information about chemistry. There is a detailed Glossary and Index.
Also published by Usborne, in 2009 is What’s Biology All About? pb 9780746089422 $19.99
What’s Physics All About? pb 9781409566373 $23.00 (10 – 15 years) KS

How to Make a Universe with 92 Ingredients: An Electrifying Guide to the Elements by Adrian Dingle pb 9781407116747 $25.00
As the title indicates there are just 92 elements in the Universe and so this book has sections on Space, Earth and Nature, Daily Life, Materials and Cool Machines. The book is complicated but the well set out graphics make it more accessible. The text is presented in an engaging way by someone who seems to be genuinely enthusiastic about chemistry and the elements and maybe will pass this on to students. Contains an Index and a Glossary (called Cool Words). (11 – 16 years) KS

Boy, Were We Wrong about Dinosaurs! by Kathleen V Kudlinski & S D Schindler (illus) pb 9780142411933 $13.00
This book goes back over time and looks at a number of conclusions that scientists have made about dinosaurs that have turned out to be completely wrong. It makes children aware that science often has incomplete evidence and so scientists make predications or guesses that turn out to be incorrect once new evidence is discovered. In fact many of the present day descriptions of how dinosaurs behave and what they look like could also be wrong. Simply written with informative illustrations. (7 – 10 years) KS

What Mr Darwin Saw by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom hb 9781845079703 $35.00 pb 9781847801074 $25.00
Charles Darwin’s life is written as simple diary entries with illustrations that are lively and have captions describing many of the things Darwin did and saw on his long journeys. It introduces many of the amazing places and creatures that Darwin encountered and also the way his thinking developed till the publication of On the Origin of the Species in 1859. The final two pages of the book give a précis in illustration and text as though Darwin is explaining himself in simple language how his Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection worked. There is also a Glossary and a large map showing the extent of Darwin’s journey. An excellent introduction to Darwin’s life as well as to this complex subject of evolution. (8 – 13 years) KS

Evolution Revolution: From Darwin to DNA by Robert Winston hb 9781405337199 $28.00 (2009) This book is extremely well set out and covers a huge range of information in an entertaining way. The book begins with creation stories and then with a discussion of theories that developed in the 1700s and 1800s as scientists questioned the belief that God had created all the species exactly as they appeared. There is detailed description of Darwin’s notes and research over 20 years, and the events that led to his publishing of his ideas on natural selection. The last two chapters look at the effect of the study of genetics on Darwin’s natural selection theory and a discussion of evolution in action over the millennia and how we can see it still evolving. There is a huge range of photos, diagrams, graphs and illustrations and also a comprehensive Index and Glossary. (9 – 14 years) KS

The Big Picture Book. See Life on Earth unfolding through time by John Long & Brian Choo (illus) hb 9781741143287 $29.95
This book truly deals with the Big Picture since it explores the origin of the Universe and the solar system as well as the origins of life on Earth. On the left of each page is a timeline showing the vastness of the time scale involved and this helps us understand the Big Picture. The many excellent photographs and illustrations help explain the changes in the Universe and the evolution of life on Earth. John Long is a palaeontologist and he is able to explain his science to children and to create beautiful books.
(9 - 14 years) KS

Body: An Amazing Tour of Human Anatomy by Robert Winston and Richard Walker hb (includes CD) 9781405310420 $38.00
I know there have been many books which try to reconstruct the human body and give an idea of its amazing complexity but this one I think does it extremely successfully. The book looks at the various body systems such as skeletal, muscular, nervous etc but then looks in more detail at the head, and upper and lower body sections. The illustrations are exceptional and enable us to visualise the amazing complexity of the body through reconstruction which has been made possible apparently through modern scanning machines and computing. (10 – 18 years) KS

Story of Astronomy & Space by Lisa Miles and Alastair Smith pb 9781409582977 $19.99
A good introduction to astronomy. There are sections on Our Solar System, the Stars, but the most interesting perhaps are the detailed maps of the constellations of both the northern and southern hemisphere and hints on helping students to identify constellations in the night sky over different times of the year.
(9 – 12 years) KS

The Way Science Works by Robin Kerrod and Dr Sharon Ann Holgate pb 9781405331937 $28.00
This is an excellent overview to the complexities of the science world. Key theories are explained in clear accessible language and many experiments are suggested for each section so that students can do their own practical experiments. Key areas covered include Looking at Matter, Atoms and Elements, Forces and Energy, Heat and Sound, Light and Colour, Electricity and Magnetism. Published in association with the Science Museum London in 2002. (10 – 16 years) KS

How we organise ourselves

On the Go by Ann Morris, photographs by Ken Hillman pb 9780688136376 $13.00
The very simple text contrasts with the complexity of the photos showing a wide variety of the ways in which people get around. Great for discussion. Also Tools pb 9780688161651 $13.00
shows a wide variety of tools and how they are used around the world. (4 – 7 years) KS

People in the Community: People Who Help Us (Acorn Plus series) pb 9781432933449 $16.00 This book covers a wide range of material through a simple text for young readers. It looks at what is a community and how communities can be large or small. It describes how different people can work in a community and how many work at selling goods or services. It then goes on to describe different types of workers such health workers, people who keep us safe such as fire fighters and police, teachers or coaches and also vets. The examples given are of people from round the world. Finally it emphasises the importance of working together and helping each other. (6 – 8 years) KS

Similarly Citizenship: Being a Good Citizen (Acorn Plus series) gives a good overall view of how students can be good citizens. pb 9781432933401 $16.00
The illustrations showing students in many situations enliven the straightforward text. The text discusses what is a citizen, and how children can help at home, at school, and with friends.
(6 – 8 years) KS

One Hen: How one small loan made a big difference Written by Katie Smith Milway & Eugenie Fernandes (illus) hb 9781554530281 $34.00 pb 9781408109816 $21.00
This is the story of how a small loan made to a poor family can enable that family to start a small business and how that can then lead to a much better life for them. The lively and brightly coloured illustrations bring to life Kojo’s village in Ghana and show us how his life improves. The story is based loosely on the life of Kwabena Darko who was born to poor parents in the Ashanti region of Ghana but who grew up to run a large chicken farm. He set up Sinapi Aba (Mustard Seed) Trust which makes small loans. In 2006, it provided loans to over 50,000 Ghanaians mainly to help them set up new small businesses. A few pages of information at the end of the book give details about other micro-credit organizations around the world and how they can be contacted. This is a very helpful book for introducing the concepts of sustainable development and social justice and for teaching global citizenship. (8 – 12 years) KS

Mimi’s Village and How Basic Health Care Transformed It by Katie Smith Milway & Eugenie Fernandes (illus) hb 9781554537228 $26.99
Written by the same team which produced the excellent book One Hen, this is also a story set in a village in Africa. When Mimi’s little sister gets sick the family has to walk miles to a neighbouring village to get medical help. Mimi has the idea that they could have their own clinic if the families of the village built a room and if everyone contributed to the clinic. The story is a little stilted but describes how clean water, a clinic nurse and mosquito nets make such a huge difference to the health of the children of the village. At the end of the book is additional information on the importance of basic health care and what we can do to help bring this about. There is also a Glossary.
(8 – 11 years) KS
Also The Good Garden: How the Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway hb 9781554534883 $34.00
This charming story of how a family of subsidence farmers in Honduras improved their gardens and their lives is based on the story of a real life Honduran teacher called Don Celias Sanchez who worked all his life advising farmers and villagers how they could improve their soil and grow better crops. It is a very positive story and beautifully illustrated. The use of some Spanish words adds to the liveliness of the text and a glossary at the end of the book helps with any Spanish words not understood. Additional information at the end of the book also suggests other ways we can help improve food security in the world. (9 – 12 years) KS

• The Story of Money by Martin Jenkins illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura hb 9781406324587 $27.95
This is a fascinating, entertaining, easy to understand exploration of the evolution of money. It starts in the time before money was invented, and we learn how people exchanged, food, goods and services, which is known as bartering. Along the way we learn about hunter gatherers, barter, clay tablets, goat swapping, precious metals, hard bargains, IOUs, interest, coins, Romans, taxes, inflation, paper money, currencies and exchange rates, electronic transfers and why banks crash. The cartoon-style illustrations are amusing and add to the accessibility of the book. (10-12 year olds) MC

Who’s in Charge? How people and ideas make the world go round foreword by Andrew Marr (2014 ed) pb 9781409351016 $16.99
The world of politics is complicated and often seems very messy. This book is excellent in that it sets out the various elements of political structure and ideas and gives simple, interesting explanations in a format that is lively and eye-catching but also makes the explanations easier to understand. In fact I found its examples so interesting that I found myself reading many sections in full. The book is divided into sections called Taking Charge, Take me to your Leader, The big Ideas, and People and Politics. The book also includes discussion of the various political systems over the years and in various countries throughout the world. It is an extremely informative and useful book.
(11 – 17 years) KS

Sharing the planet

Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind & Changed Their World by Allan Drummond hb 9780374321840 $32.00 pb 9781250056764 $14.00
An inspiring narrative non-fiction picture book about the Danish island of Samso, in the North Sea. It’s really windy there and the Danish Ministry of Environment and Energy chose Samso to become independent of non-renewable energy. Teacher Soren Hermansen headed the project to do away with the need for petrol, coal and natural gas, using wind turbines to make the island energy independent. The community worked together over several years to achieve this goal, showing how small changes can make a big difference. The simple text is accompanied by denser information panels about the problem with non-renewable energy sources, global warming and the advantages of energy independence through the use of renewable energy. (6-9 years) MC

The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L Roth & Cindy Trumbore hb 9781600604591 $36.00
This is a fascinating environmental picture book about a project to plant mangrove trees by the sea next to a poor village in a desert area of Eritrea. Doctor Sato hoped that the trees would provide additional food for the goats and sheep of the village and that this would in turn provide additional milk and food for the villagers. In fact the mangroves also attracted more and bigger fish and the dead wood could be used for cooking. The bright and very expressive illustrations are mixed media collages. For each double page spread the text on the right hand side of the page gives a simple explanation of how the mangrove plants were planted and cared for, while on the left is a cumulative verse. The very interesting Afterword with colour photographs shows Doctor Sato working with the villagers on this project. There is also a Glossary and Pronunciation Guide. (6 – 11 years) KS
If the World were a Village: A book about the World’s People by David J Smith illustrated by Shelagh Arstrong hb 9781554535958 $34.00
This is such an important book, especially for students trying to gain some comprehension of the huge numbers of people living on our planet. As of January 2005, there were 6 billion 400 million people. David Smith imagines the whole population of the world in just one village of 100 people. In this global village, each person represents 64 million people. He then takes us through this village showing us more about the people living there. In this global village, 61 are from Asia, 13 from Africa, 12 from Europe, 8 from South and Central America, 5 from Canada and the US and 1 from Oceania. He looks at the beliefs, languages and ages of these people as well as the food they eat. If the food they eat was divided equally, there would be no shortage of food in this global village but it isn’t and so 50 people are hungry some of the time and 20 are severely malnourished. He also looks at water, electricity, money and possessions and also how many people lived in this village in the past and will live there in the future. The text is very simply written and I am sure that it would spark spontaneous discussion. This is very much a book with an interdisciplinary world-view linking geography, environment and human rights. (9 - 14 years) KS

One Well: The Story of water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss illus by Rosemary Woods hb 9781553379546 $34.00
has a similar format. It describes the water cycle and how water in the world is continually recycled. It also describes how many people do not have access to sufficient water. There are also suggestions of how water can be conserved. (8 – 14 years) KS

One small island: The Story of Macquarie Island by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch hb 9780670072361 $29.95
Through text and detailed illustrations, an excellent chronological record of this island in the Southern Ocean between Antarctica and New Zealand is provided. It begins with the geological history of the island and then describes the arrival of sealers who plundered the fur seals and later the elephant seals and penguins for their oil. They also introduced pests such as mice, rats, wekas, feral cats and rabbits all of which had a devastating effect on the plant and bird life of the island. The story is told simply through a text which runs across the bottom of most pages; above this there are detailed diagrams or extracts from sealers’ and sailors’ diaries, charts, maps and drawings of the plant and bird life on the island, giving a wealth of information. Since the sealers left, there has been a sustained effort to rid the island of its introduced pests and to try to allow the island to return to a state closer to the way it was originally. A Glossary and a timeline are included. (8 – 15 years) KS

Sustainable Homes (Sustainable Futures series) (published in 2009) pb 9780237539221 $20.00 Looks at sustainable homes round the world, including traditionally built houses using natural local materials and also homes using modern technology (some of which also use local natural materials.) The book also discusses the most efficient ways of heating and cooling homes in order to save energy and also the most efficient ways of using water. There is a section on reducing waste and pollution and on recycling. The last chapter discusses the importance of building sustainable communities, not just houses. The book also looks at the impact our houses have on the environment and on our quality of life. (10 – 15 years) KS
The other titles in this range are:
Energy 9780237539207
Healthy Seas 9780237539214
Waste, Recycling and Reuse 9780237539177

KS Kate Shepherd
MC Mandy Clarke
LB Lynndy Bennett

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