SLA's Friday Favourites: Information Books Special :: NEWS
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SLA's Friday Favourites: Information Books Special

08 October 2021 Share

Fantastic non-fiction we think you'll love.

Our Information Book Award celebrates the best of children's nonfiction and, out of the hundreds of books we're sent, it's always such a challenge to whittle it down to a small shortlist. That's why we want to also highlight some of the brilliant books that may have only made this year's longlist, but which are still well worth considering for your school library collection. 

So this week, IBA Judge Chris Routh tells us about some special longlisted titles and how they could be useful for your school.


Title: Who Makes a Forest?

Author: Sally Nicholls

Illustrator: Carolina Rabei

Publisher: Andersen Press

Age: 0-7

Publication date: 1st October 2020

ISBN: 9781783449200

Reviewer: Chris Routh




What is it about?

Although already a well-known as a novelist, Who Makes a Forest? is Sally Nicholls first information book for young children. It tells the story of how forests came to be generally and then explores different kinds of forests in more detail, providing facts and figures about tropical, temperate and boreal forests, as well as deforestation.


What was your favourite fact you learned and why?

For me, the statistical information provided contained the most awe-inspiring and thought-provoking facts. Forests cover nearly one third of the world’s land-surface (more than 15.3 million square miles). Three trillion trees help to keep our air clean and our planet healthy. And yet, in addition to forest fires due to increased global temperatures, human activity continues to contribute to the loss of the world’s forests at an exponential rate.


What lasting impression did it have?

The book is beautifully produced. A lush green colour palette is used throughout, from the forest green spine to the beautiful endpapers embellished with some of the fruits, seeds and leaves that we would find in our own temperate forests, and the illustrations in the main body of the text. The text is divided into two distinct parts - a simply told story, followed by five pages of additional, more detailed facts.


How can you see this book being used in schools?

The introductory story describes a grandfather on a walk through a forest with his two grandchildren. Along the way they look at the flora and fauna around them and learn how forests have been formed. This lyrical narrative is ideal for reading aloud and would make a great introduction to a topic or preparation for a nature walk. 

The five pages of information are more traditional in layout, with captioned illustrations and highlighted words to help young researchers. While providing more detail, this part of the book is bound to raise more questions to follow-up in library books or to research online. It would sit nicely on a nature table or could be used to inspire a wall-display.


Available here


Title: Birds: Explore Their Extraordinary World

Author: Miranda Krestovnikoff

Illustrator: Angela Harding

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Age: 13-16

Publication date: 20th February 2020

ISBN: 9781408893913

Reviewer: Chris Routh




What is it about?

This beautifully designed compendium opens a window on the extraordinary world of birds - how they adapt and survive and what they can do. Written by television presenter and president of the RSPB Miranda Krestovnikoff and illustrated by bird-loving printmaker Angela Harding, it was long listed for the Klaus Flugge Illustration Prize in 2021.


What was your favourite fact you learned and why?

The author’s dedication is to two of the Victorian women who were instrumental in setting up the RSPB. I had heard of them, but went online to find out more about their inspirational story, which you can read here.

Divided into 15 ‘chapters’, I was drawn to the section on Passerines as this was an unfamiliar term. Six pages are devoted to ‘perching birds’ with over 5,000 or half of all known species in the category.


What lasting impression did it have?

The combination of the scientifically detailed yet accessibly written expository text with the fabulous prints of a celebrated fine artist make this a wonderful book for repeatedly poring over.


How can you see this book being used in schools?

As an ‘exploration’ the book is more intended to lead readers to interesting discoveries than to aid research - it’s thematically arranged, with highlighted headings, although without an index. Even so, it will not only feed the curiosity of nature loving readers, but also provide inspiration for budding illustrators. As such it could just as easily sit in a Biology or Art department. English teachers could use sections to read aloud as models for writing information texts.


Available here


Have you seen our IBA shortlist? Get involved with the award with our free accompanying resources and encourage children to vote for their favourites as part of our Children's Choice Award! But hurry, voting closes on Friday 12th November...