An Anthology of Intriguing Animals


A wonderful range of creatures are included in this anthology, each depicted in stunning photography and amazing illustrations. Did you know that sleeping otters wrap themselves in seaweed so they don’t float off? Or that octopuses have blue blood and three hearts, one of which stops beating whilst they swim? The book is crammed full of fantastic facts about these intriguing animals!


Some of the creatures in the book are well known- otters, camels, walrus, jellyfish- but there is still much to learn about each one. Jellyfish are nearly all water and the tentacles on a Pacific sea nettle can be longer than a boa constrictor. A hippo sweats a thick, pin slime which acts as a sun cream. Less familiar animals are also included. Viscacha - a South American creature closely related to the chinchilla- spend hours sitting in the morning sun with their eyes closed. Sloths are surprisingly good swimmers, doing doggy paddle to cross rivers. Some pangolin have claws strong enough to excavate concrete-hard soil.


The book itself is simply stunning. Gold edged pages, a ribbon bookmark and satisfyingly thick pages make this a volume to treasure. It is perfect for dipping in and out of! A comprehensive glossary and a useful visual guide including page numbers, the Latin name, group, size of the animal and location where it can be found are included at the end of the book. There is also a useful ‘Tree of Life’ spread which shows how creatures are related to one another.

As beautiful as it is intriguing, ‘An Anthology of Intriguing Animals’ would make a perfect gift.

An Anthology of Intriguing Animals Ben Hoare

DK ISBN: 978-0241334393


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This fabulous book is all about the goddess, Athena and the role she played in some of the Greek myths. Opening with a ‘who’s who’ , the book then starts with the story of Athena’s ‘birth’ and ends with Odysseus’s return to his homeland, linking the myths surrounding her into one narrative. Stories like Perseus and Medusa are re-told from Athena’s perspective, focusing on her role and her relationship with the other gods and goddesses of Olympus.

Told in graphic novel style, the book is instantly appealing and easily manageable. The illustrations are full of the emotions and action of the myths, really bringing them to life and this book would be perfect to use when teaching the Greeks at KS2. It offers so many opportunities for writing, art work and using historical sources as well as introducing children to this amazing goddess and would sit well alongside texts such as ‘Odysseus’. Although not strictly speaking an ‘information’ text, we felt it sat best in this category in terms of how it might be used.

Athena: The Story of a Goddess Imogen and Isabel Greenberg

Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1408892497


This lovely book tells the story of Anna Atkins and her work in botany and photography. Although the story starts with Anna’s childhood, the author makes it clear in her note that little is actually known about this period, but emphasises the fact that he greatly encouraged her education in spite of views to the contrary at the time.

Beautifully illustrated almost entirely in shades of blue, the book brings to life the work Anna did in creating ‘cyanotypes’ of plants, offering a valuable biography of this remarkable woman which would be perfect for using as part of the Y6 science work on classification. The book offers many opportunities for encouraging working scientifically and for inspiring children to make their own cyanotypes, either using pre-treated paper or (for the brave!) following Fiona Robinson’s instructions at the end of the book. Class collections could be made recording the plants in the school grounds or locality. The story also allows for reflection on the significant contributions of women, often neglected or discounted.

The Bluest of Blues: Anna Atkins and the First Book of Photographs

Fiona Robinson

Abrams ISBN: 978-1419725517

You can read another review of ‘The Bluest of Blues’ here.


Perfect for the curious, this book offers exactly what it says on the cover! Completely fascinating, it takes a theme and packs the timeline on that subject full of fascinating facts and tantalising details. Starting with Prehistory (before 3000 BCE) and making its way through time to the modern world (after 1914), there are timelines on a staggering range of subjects.

Each section is beautifully presented, using a mixture of illustrations and photographs and each timeline is presented in an original way, reflecting the subject matter. ‘The Scientific Revolution’, for example, journeys along a telescope whilst that of the Roman Empire is on a mosaic. Each has a brief introduction and there are many additional snippets of information or quotes throughout the book. As well as being fascinating for dipping in and out of, many of the timelines offer a fantastic introduction to periods of history studied; the ‘early Islamic Empires’, depicted as part of an Islamic pattern or ‘British rulers’ to help set periods into context (I’ll even forgive them for saying Richard III ‘may have had a role in the death of his two nephews’.). There are too many timelines to comment on, but ‘The Story of Spying’ is well worth a look as are ‘China’s Golden Age’, ‘Medicine’ , ‘Technology of writing’… So many to choose from!

Timelines of Everything

DK ISBN: 978- 0241302323


‘The Clue is in the Poo and Other Stuff Too’ is an amazing treasure trove of facts about nature! It is a fabulous blend of information, things to do and delightful illustrations, all perfect for engaging even the most reluctant reader.

The book starts with information about being a ‘nature detective’, with rules of tracking and the tools needed explained. There is a lot about poo as might be expected from the title- how to use it to identify which creatures have been around, for example- as well as plenty of ‘toilet trivia’.

However, the book is about ‘other stuff too’ and the reader is shown different animal and bird tracks and given advice for what to look for when spotting possible animal homes. Throughout the book, there are quizzes to keep the reader on their toes and test their new found knowledge. Presented with the light, humorous touch which Andy is so well-loved for, ‘The Clue is in the Poo and Other Stuff Too’ is both fascinating and informative- the perfect accompaniment for getting a class outside and seeking out the creatures which inhabit their local environment.

The Clue is in the Poo and Other Stuff Too Andy Seed, Illustrated by Claire Almon

QED ISBN: 978-1784935733


Earth- Planet Awesome- introduces the reader to the first 4.54 billion years of her story. Full of incredible illustrations, the book is also packed full of facts, all presented in a very original and appealing style. Earth is full of personality as she chats to the reader about everything from her beginnings to her family to the creation of life. She finishes by making the point that humans do not always behave themselves and treat her well, but the final note is one of optimism for the future.

The book successfully combines plenty of information and humour and could be used with children of any age. Older children might be inspired to create their own book in this style focusing on another member of Earth’s ‘big’ family, including Pluto, the ‘family pet’! With such inspiring illustrations to model their work on, they could have great fun developing their own style. The book ends with a section of ‘more fun facts’. It is a real joy, making science fun and friendly!

Planet Awesome! Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by David Litchfield

Faber and Faber ISBN: 978- 0571345441


Starting with general information about flag design types and the development of flags through history, ‘Raise the Flag’ then looks at flags from around the world. It also looks at how flags are used, notable people and the historical events behind many of them. Pirates also get a mention with the ‘Jolly Roger’ and other flags flown by famous pirates.

The book makes links between the flags of different nations and how some have been redesigned to reflect political changes. Containing over 200 flags, it also offers many additional facts about the countries they come from. The book concludes with a ‘flag quiz’ to test your new found flag knowledge. It is an amazing book for dipping in and out of, but is also offers a cornucopia of flaggish facts, historical detail and geographical knowledge that really has something for everyone from those interested in vexillology to someone whose interest lies in one flag in particular.

Raise the Flag Clive Gifford, illustrated by Tim Bradford

QED ISBN: 978- 1784932152

Fantastic choices so far- there are more to come tomorrow in the final six books long listed for this category!

2018 Information Shortlist

So here it is...

the NSTBA 2018 Information Shortlist.


Young, Gifted and Black   Jamia Wilson, illustrated by Andrea Pippins

Wide Eyed     ISBN: 978-1786030887

You can read the long list review here.


The Bee Book  Charlotte Milner

DK    ISBN: 978-0241305188

You can read the long list review here.


How Does a Lighthouse Work? 

 Roman Belyaev, translated from Russian with the help of Masha Kulikova

b small publishing      ISBN: 978-1911509240

You can read the long list review here.


The Histronauts: An Egyptian Adventure  Frances Durkin, illustrated by Grace Cooke

b small publishing      ISBN: 978-1911509097

You can read the long list review here.

Congratulations to all! The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on the 10th November.