Bookshelf Information



What would it be like to high five a polar bear, chatter with a Toucan or stare into the enormous eyes of a giant squid? A playful peek into Sophy Henn’s book ‘Lifesize’ will give you the opportunity to do just that. Each page features a new lifesize adventure. From animals on African plains, to frozen artic deserts, rainforest jungles to the depths of the ocean, Sophie Henn presents the very best in show. Whenever an animal is featured on a page and you see the word LIFESIZE, we are guaranteed to be looking at an animal, or part of an animal, that is the true to life size.


Can you roar like a Bengal tiger or stick your tongue out as far as a giraffe? Lifesize contains seven animal challenges to enable readers to interact with the book and test how they measure up against some truly incredible animals. Travelling the globe through the pages of the book, readers will not only get a ‘lifesize’ look at some truly incredible animals- bee hummingbirds, arctic lampreys and pretty Cuban todies- but they will also learn fascinating facts about animal habitats and behaviours.


At the end of the book, readers are able to see how a selection of the featured animals measure up against each other. Measurements are not only recorded in centimetres and metres, but also in Lifesize books. A giant panda is surprisingly only five books from head to tail, whereas a giant squid is a staggering 60 books long!


This gorgeous book is the perfect topic text for any primary classroom. Readers could research and write non-chronological reports about their favourite animals or find their own animals to measure and write about. Sophy’s beautiful illustrations are an essential feature of this book and her simple clean style would be easy for readers to copy using printing methods. Finally, as this book is all about size, readers could investigate a variety of animals to measure and compare.

If you enjoy this book as much as we have, then look out for a life-size prehistoric adventure coming in March of 2019.


Lifesize Sophy Henn

Red Shed ISBN: 978-1405289573

Guest Post: Why Should Children Engage With History?


Here at JABHQ, we are great fans of the ‘Histronauts’ books, winner of this year’s Information Category and so were delighted to hear that a new title in the series is being published this month- A Viking Adventure. These adventures manage to combine lots of historical detail with story and activities to help engage children with the period. We are delighted that Frances Durkin, author of these wonderful books, has taken the time to share her thoughts about the importance of engaging children with history.

One of my favourite things about being an author is having the chance to meet children and to ask them what they like about history. The wealth of different answers never fails to impress me. They find it mysterious, funny, scary, interesting, gross, exciting and, yes, sometimes they’re more than happy to admit that it can be boring. This multitude of adjectives makes it so much fun to invite children to share in engaging with the past. It is the perfect subject for inquisitive imaginations and, by nurturing that passion in childhood, it can fascinate and reward for entire lifetimes.


I was very lucky to have spent my childhood aware of the history which surrounded me. I knew that nearby roads were built on those laid out by the Romans, that the cathedral in our nearest city was more than 900 old, and that local communities had been built on the coal industry for centuries. This was partly because it was fundamental to the fabric of where I grew up, and partly because of the passionate educators in my life. I was taken to visit every possible museum and historic landmark. I also blame the regular visits to York for the fact that I have grown up to be a medievalist with a shameless love of castles.

‘History’ means so much to all of us on many levels; it is both personal and social. We each have our favourite periods to engage with because we might like a particular historical figure, are drawn to a certain significant event, or are intrigued by the clothes that people used to wear. But on a much more intimate level, television programmes in recent years have driven a fantastic interest in family history. This has made the past very relatable. History can start at home and those who raise children have a role in teaching them that they are a part of it. This accessibility to the lives of our parents and grandparents can then give way to the history of our society on a larger scale.

As well as allowing children to see how history relates to them, its study also gives them the critical thinking tools which enable them to question what they see around them. The past is an extraordinary puzzle made up of more than just dates and places. Historical research comprises perpetual detective work which makes it endlessly fascinating and exciting. New discoveries provide answers and different perspectives, but they also raise many new questions. This ensures that the research tools of a historian are varied and full of opportunities to learn new skills or engage with other historical discourses. These skills for questioning are increasingly important in a world in which children are growing up with easy access to information that isn’t always what it seems.


In writing history for children my principal aim is that it be neither intimidating nor overwhelming. My background is in academic historical research and I hold writing books for children to the same high standard that I would expect of any conference paper. Children don’t deserve over-simplification or laziness in the manner in which history is communicated to them. But this doesn’t mean that it has to be dry or boring. There is much fun to be had in sharing new information and my work with the illustrator Grace Cooke aims to invite all children into the past, even those who might not like reading or who already think that history is ‘boring’.


Curiosity and inventiveness make children natural historians. There is so much joy to be found in helping to cultivate those innate talents and, by doing so, enable them to grow up with insight and understanding of the actions and events which have shaped the present.

Frances Durkin is the author and co-creator of The Histronauts book series. She is completing her PhD in Medieval History at the University of Birmingham.

The Histronauts: A Viking Adventure Frances Durkin, illustrated by Grace Cooke

bsmall publishing ISBN: 978-1911509721

Corpse Talk: Ground-Breaking Women


History is full of incredible stories about amazing people, many of whom have been women. However, many of these incredible life stories have been forgotten, along with the heroic deeds that were ground breaking in their day. The best way to unearth these histories is to speak to the individuals themselves, but this seems impossible as these people died hundreds of years ago. Corpse talk is the comic book chat show that brings the dead interesting and dead famous to life, quite literally. In order to get the real scoop on the lives of the most brilliant individuals in history, host Adam Murphy picks up his shovel and digs up the remains of these individuals and conducts fascinating and hilarious interviews. ‘Corpse Talk: Ground Breaking Women’ is the female edition to the comic book series. It’s a truly horrible take on history, with a female twist.


This book features queens and con-artists, saints and suffragettes, philosophers and pirates, a historical timeline from Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh who traded her way into the Egyptian record books through to Josephine Baker, entertainer, sophisticated high society lady and spy for the French Resistance. There are interviews with Empress Irene, the first women to rule the Roman Empire, Khutulun, the Mongolian warrior princess, Pocahontas, the native American who encouraged peace between her people and English settlers and Harriet Tubman, guide through the underground railroad. If that’s not enough ‘girl power’, there are also interviews with Granny Nanny, the plantation slavery resistance fighter, Joan of Arc, the valiant visionary who helped the French armies defeat the invading English and Emily Wilding Davison, the English suffragette who died for her cause.


Adam Murphy’s interviews with each brilliant woman from history uncover highlights from incredible life stories, showcasing great accomplishments and bring to light little known personal historical facts. If the life stories aren’t enough, Corpse Talk also explains a whole host of details surrounding the lives of these famous women. Hatshepsut reveals the plans for her temple and Josephine Baker explains how to dance the Charleston; Empress Irene explains how Byzantine Silk was created; Khutulan showcases her best Bokh Wresting Moves and Harriet Tubman walks you through the underground railroad. This is a book jam-packed with incredible historical facts and even more amazing life stories.


This is fourth book in the ‘Corpse Talk’ series, which unearths dead amazing details from historically famous people throughout history. Some of the interviews from this book have been previously featured in the weekly story comic, ‘The Phoenix’ but his book brings them all together and adds so much more. Due to the humorous nature and engaging comic book style, this book is hard to put down. Perfect for reluctant readers, history buffs and lovers of stories that empower attitudes of independence, confidence, and brilliance among young women- and men!


This is a great text for any KS2 library shelf. It’s perfect as a research resource and as a starting point for further investigation. Take a more detailed look into some of these incredible lives, the geography and history surrounding them. Readers could find their own incredible characters to make their own ‘Ground-Breaking’ history book, writing their own reports or interviews. They could also write narratives imagining what it would be like to step into the shoes of their favourite characters.

The Phoenix Presents…Corpse Talk: Ground-Breaking Women

Adam and Lisa Murphy

David Fickling Books ISBN: 978-1910989609