Darwin's On the Origin of Species

NSTBA INFORMATION CATEGORY LONG LIST 2019 part 2

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Perfect for supporting work from the Year 5 programme of study on ‘Earth and Space’, ‘Voyage through Space’ takes the reader on an adventure with a little girl and her dog as they explore the solar system. Starting at the sun, they visit each planet in turn. With additional fact boxes across each spread, the text is full of interesting details, presented in achievable sections and written in a chatty style. The journey ends at the Kuiper Belt (including Pluto) which is past the edges of our solar system.

The illustrations are stunning, full of colour and interest, forming an appealing backdrop to the information. The style and presentation of this book will appeal to many children, particularly those who find navigating large sections of text difficult. The ‘glow in the dark’ poster is an attractive addition.

Voyage Through Space Katy Flint, illustrated by Cornelia Li

Wide Eyed ISBN: 978-1786030825

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Explaining Darwin’s theory in an accessible way, this re-telling by Sabina Radeva is perfect for using to support the work in the Year 6 programme of study on evolution and inheritance. Beautifully illustrated, it explains the basic concepts of Darwin’s work in easily digestible sections, putting it into the context of the time in which he lived. The book starts with scientists before Darwin and looks at his family life before moving on to his ideas. The text includes quotes from Darwin himself, reminding the reader that Darwin actually wrote the ideas the book is based on and there is a fascinating ‘misconceptions’ section at the end. An appendix offers additional information and a glossary explains some of the terms used.

Beautiful and informative, Sabina Radeva’s re-telling makes Darwin’s work accessible to children, encouraging them to wonder at the world around them.

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species retold and illustrated by Sabina Radeva

Puffin ISBN: 978-0141388502

You can read another review of this book here.

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‘Natural Wonders of the World’ is a beautiful book, exploring 30 of the wonders of our planet, some well known, others less so. A map of the world shows the location of each wonder, linked to the contents so the information can be easily located and there is a comprehensive index at the end. Stunning photographs and illustrations are on every page, celebrating places, animals and birds, plants and natural phenomena with detailed, interesting text exploring the history, legends, people and science behind them.

Each is fascinating, but in the introduction, the reader is also reminded that there are wonders all around us which we should enjoy and comments on how ‘fragile and precious out planet really is.’ The book could be used as a starting point for further researched linked to various areas of science or geography, but could also be the inspiration for a class book about local ‘wonders’, encouraging children to investigate, write about and photograph their locality.

Natural Wonders of the World Molly Oldfield, illustrated by Frederica Bordoni

(photograph credits given at the end of the book)

Wren and Rook ISBN: 978-1526360663

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This striking book looks at the development of transport through the ages. Divided into categories such as trains, ships, cars, etc,. each section starts with a double page spread which gives a timeline of the evolution of that mode of transport, showing key dates. Additional information is then given on the following pages about how they developed and the people behind them.

The wide range of transport included means that there is something for everyone here. The illustrations of the timelines are full of detail and humour, presented in black and white with coloured borders which correspond with the colour of the pages of information. As well as being full of facts, this could inspire children to present their own research in this way.

Amazing Transport: Journey through the History of Transport

Tom Jackson, illustrated by Chris Mould

Bloomsbury ISBN: 978-1408889770

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A wonderful collection of amazing stories, ‘Great Adventurers’ focus on the expeditions of twenty explorers from throughout history. Each was an inspiration to the author who has ‘chased a life of adventure’ himself and in turn hopes to inspire his readers to do the same.

The book is a fascinating read, including a wide range of people from across the world. Alastair Humphreys explains why each figure has inspired him whilst giving an account of their adventures. Each is told over four pages, including maps. kit, diary entries and recipes and is brilliantly illustrated throughout, including comic strip sections. A brilliant addition to any library!

Alastair Humphreys’ Great Adventurers, illustrated by Kevin Ward

Big Picture Press ISBN: 978-1783708413

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Very topical at the moment, 'A Planet Full of Plastic’ is an extremely readable, engaging book which both explains the development of plastic and why it has become such a problem. Terms such as ‘biodegrade’ and ‘microplastic’ are clearly explained and the book does not shy away from the severity of the issue. However, it is not all doom and gloom. The book also looks at ways of helping the situation, starting with reduce, reuse, recycle and then looking at the ideas scientists and engineers are coming up with to tackle the problem before offering ideas and information about how the reader can help.

The cartoon/ collage style of illustration, using photographs as backgrounds, is extremely effective and the chatty style of the text makes a direct appeal to the reader, personified by the cartoon child, from the narrator whose identity is discovered at the end of the book. Giving examples of young people who have made such a difference is very inspirational and offers the challenge of thinking of a ‘big idea to help save the planet’. An important book for both home and school, ‘A Planet Full of Plastic’ offers an excellent starting point for making changes to our behaviour, making us all take responsibility for this man made problem. Excellent!

A Planet Full of Plastic and How You Can Help Neal Layton

Wren and Rook ISBN: 978-1526361738

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species

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This beautiful book explains Charles Darwin’s famous work, ‘On the Origin of Species’ in a clear, child-friendly manner. Setting the scene with ‘a few clever and curious scientists…who challenged’ the idea that everything in the world had always been the same, the book then focuses on Darwin and his work.

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Each of Darwin’s ideas is illustrated and explained, with quotes from Darwin throughout. Each point is broken down into clear, easily managed sections, enabling the reader to comprehend some quite challenging ideas. Darwin’s voice can be heard as quotes from his work are included, injecting the book with a sense of his enthusiasm, wonder and excitement. The main points of his thinking are summarised in a conclusion at the end with a final note reminding us that the process of evolution continues.

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An excellent appendix offers yet more information on this fascinating subject, up-dating some ideas in light of current research. The section on misconceptions is particularly valuable and a clear glossary explains some of the main terms. There are even some suggestions for further reading.

Y6 Science Programme of Study Evolution and inheritance stares that children should be taught to:

  • recognise that living things have changed over time and that fossils provide information about living things that inhabited the Earth millions of years ago

  • recognise that living things produce offspring of the same kind, but normally offspring vary and are not identical to their parents

  • identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment in different ways and that adaptation may lead to evolution

This lovely book supports a class teacher in fulfilling these aims and makes an excellent addition to the library, allowing children to further explore and investigate Darwin’s ideas, challenging them to observe and notice the world around them. Combining scientific ideas with beautiful artwork, ‘Darwin's On the Origin of Species’ is a real must have!

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species Retold and illustrated by Sabina Radeva

Penguin ISBN: 978-0141388502