If you are like me, knowing there are only 41 days left until Christmas fills you with silent terror. You know it’s not about the presents. You know you’ll want (have) to give some, anyway. You’ve heard books tick all the enduring, educational, entertaining boxes as far as kids’ gifts go, but how do you choose without going crackers? During the next 41 days, I’ll share a cluster of the best kids’ books of 2017. Hunt them down for your Christmas stockings. Hold on tight though, we’ll be going faster than a turbo-charged reindeer over black ice.
List # 1 Non-fiction Picture Books
Striking board book series featuring elegant artwork and lyrical text. This one is useful for forging connections between our beautiful seashores and new creatures. Ideal for 2+ year-olds.
Magabala Books August 2017
Jellett’s character-filled illustrations bring this fascinating assortment of historic aviators to spectacular life. From Lawrence Hargrave to John Flynn, ‘Smithy’ to Nancy Bird, numerous significant figures in the history of flight and aviation in Australia are described using first person narrative and fact-based prose. Amazing facts are included along with modern day updates. Perfect for aeroplane enthusiasts from 8 years upwards.
Read Romi’s full review, here.
If you love Deadly 60, you’ll be mad for this beefy full-colour collection of some of the world’s most formidable predators. Ridiculously fearsome and astounding photographs accompany an incredible list of hunters from apex predators such as lions and sharks to the less ubiquitous platypus. Scientific facts and stats provide just enough information without obscuring the teeth baring drama and are paired in side-by-side showdowns – anglerfish vs. pelican eel, for example. An awesome addition (with stickers and poster!) for the would-be marine biologists and nature lovers aged 6 – 14.
Becker & Mayer! Kids July 2017
Move over Orient Express, the Discovery Express has arrived, platform one. This is a glorious pop-up, pull, and flap creation allowing readers to embark on a thrilling journey back in time with Nancy Delaney, geographer, explorer and all-round adventurer. Choco-block with puzzles and fascinating facts, Nancy escorts you from Paris to England, the US and beyond on a spellbinding journey of discovery about trains, planes and yes, automobiles. Even submarines are included in this book, which is more of a code-busting adventure romp through history. Highly recommended and ideal for sleuths and transport spotters from 10 years+.
Quarto Group September 2017
This is a search and find book with one exciting difference; it has a magnifying glass! Kids will be fighting adults to use this nifty bit of kit to search for hidden articles and treasure on each page. Not only are the illustrations suitably detailed enough to warrant use of your magnifying glass, but they relate to some terrific pirate trivia, too, which enriches the reading experience even if you fail to find your treasure. But wait, there’s more. Some of history’s most notable notorious plunderers are included both in the search and in the Rogues Gallery. There’s even a Talk Like a Pirate lesson sheet with vocab included. What’s not to love! If you have a little pirate eager to heave ho, then weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen with this terrific book. It’ll blow 4 – 9-year-olds down, Aaarrrgghhh!
Wide Eyed Editions 2017
In the (fore) words of Carole Wilkinson, this book is ‘not only a collection of terrific tales from around the world; it is also feast for the eyes’. Why, because Phillips has taken his favourite scary stories from around the world, the ones crammed with myth and legend, spiteful witches and monstrous creations, and recaptured them in this marvellous graphic novel. Despite this, they still try escape their page confines with explosive colour and movement. Whenever I read a graphic novel, I am reminded of the illustrated annuals I used to read as a child. Like them, this is full to bursting with adventure and spook but 100% captivating and easy to read. Tales like Snow White and Rose Red, The Polar Bear King and Thor and the Frost Giants will astound and thrill lovers of comic book colour and adventure seekers from the age of 7+.
Allen & Unwin April 2017
This is a mind-boggling excursion into an astounding array of optical illusions guaranteed to reel you in (and send you cross-eyed). Jammed with hands-on experiments, tips for drawing optic art and superb explanations, Optical Illusions demystifies the colours, perspectives and shapes which all conspire to confuse our poor brains. I love the science of it. Kids will love the immersive activities and experiments. Read it with them or risk becoming a victim of their improved mental knowledge. Brilliant for upper primary aged children and anyone who loves twirly swirly book covers.
Quarto Group UK November 2017
Stay tuned for my next bag of books list. If you can’t wait that long, check out some of Boomerang’s recommended reads for children this Christmas, here.