b small publishing

NSTBA Past Winners-Information Books Category


Quality information books are so important in school-both for classwork and for reading for pleasure and we love investigating what’s available and considering how it can be used. The range of subjects and styles available is amazing and we are always learning about new things in our hunt for those special books for our list. We can’t wait to compile this year’s selection!

We have met so many lovely authors and illustrators of non-fiction books, many of whom have attended our award ceremonies.

download (34).jpg

In 2015, this lovely book won. ‘Maps’ is beautiful and can be explored time and time again. You can read our review here. Sadly, no one was able to attend the award ceremony, but we have enjoyed sharing the book with our children.

download (35).jpg

In 2016, Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure won this category. Full of fascinating facts and lavishly illustrated, this is an amazing book. The character of Professor Astro Cat is so appealing, explaining difficult concepts clearly. The lovely Ben Newman attended the awards and delighted us all by drawing pictures of Professor Astro Cat in our books. You can read our review here.


Martin Brown’s Lesser Spotted Animals won this category in 2017 with Martin attending the award ceremony. This is a wonderful book, focusing on endangered animals. Beautifully illustrated and full of Martin’s lovely humour, this is a real gem which we have enjoyed using, particularly for guided reading. You can read our review here.


Martin is absolutely lovely and was wonderful company. We are very much looking forward to his second book about ‘Lesser Spotted Animals’ which is coming soon! I can’t wait to read it and share it.


Last year, ‘The Histronauts An Egyptian Adventure’ was our winning book. This is brilliant fun and perfect for those teachers teaching the Egyptians. Grace’s wonderful illustrations lead the story in cartoon style whilst Frances delivers carefully researched historical detail through the story. You can read our review here. Frances was able to attend last year’s awards and was wonderful company. We look forward to many more Histronauts books!


Each of these books has been widely used in our schools and each has ideas for a book event and /or teaching notes to go with them which are available to our members. It is a pleasure to see them being used in classes and enjoyed by so many children!

What treasures will we manage to find for this year’s list? Next, we’ll look back and enjoy the winners of our Poetry Category.

Geographics: Earth


Full of fascinating facts and interesting information, ‘Geographics: Earth’ is perfect for curious minds.


Information is concisely conveyed with clear illustrations supporting the text. Each spread is attractively laid out and although there are plenty of facts on each page, they are not cluttered or confusing, but easy to navigate.


Many of the facts explored here are part of the Geography curriculum , making this a very useful addition to classroom bookshelves. There is a comprehensive glossary and the book is well organised into logical sections. Each page also offers a possible career in that field to give the reader an idea of related jobs.

Geographics: Earth Susan Martineau, illustrated by Vicky Barker

b small publishing ISBN: 978-1911509868

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