Thursday 3 November 2011

National Non-Fiction Day 2011

Today is the second National Non-Fiction Day, an annual celebration, initiated by the Federation of Children's Book Groups in partnership with Scholastic Children's Books. It aims to celebrate all that is brilliant about non fiction and show that it’s not just fiction that can be read and enjoyed for pleasure.

One year on and I still don't feature enough non-fiction on The Book Zone. I do read non-fiction, but it is pretty limited to adult fare that I dip in and out of between fiction books. There simply is not enough time in the day unfortunately. However, knowing that non-fiction day was looming I have been saving a couple of cool titles just for today.

The Worst Case Scenario Survive-O-Pedia (Junior Edition)

this one has been going down brilliantly in the school library since I donated my copy. It is stuffed full of great survival tips, such as how to survive a sandstorm or a shark attack, how to deal with being stranded on a desert island, how to cross piranha-infested water and all kinds of advice on what you should do if you are caught in a lightning storm. The boys at school love books like this: they gather around in huge crowds at lunchtime, just as they do with the Guinness Book of Records and the many back-volumes of Ripleys that we stock on our shelves. Every page is festooned with photos, illustrations or small cartoons, so even if they aren't close enough to be able to read the words they are still able to take part in any related conversation that is going on. The book is also littered throughout with interesting facts and my boys love their facts.

This book is possibly a little too gruesome in places for younger readers, but reluctant reader boys of 10 and above will adore it. It is published by Chronicle Books, who I must thank for generously providing me with a copy to review.

Feel The Force! Pop-Up Physics Fun

I love being a book blogger. OK, so that's a case of stating the obvious, as a book addict I don;t think I will ever get tired of receiving books in the post. Some of them are expected, but occasionally a surprise package comes through the door and Feel The Force! was one of them, courtesy of the good people at Templar, and for me it was an extra special treat. Many of you will know that my main teaching subject is Design technology, with a specific focus on Graphic Design. As such, I totally, completely, 100% adore pop-up books. And now I have another one to add to my collection.

Feel the Force! is a pop-up and life-the-flap book about science, and more specifically the physical side of the subject. Every single page has at least one pop-up, or a tab to pull, or flap to lift, and surrounded by Thomas Flintham's colourful and quirky illustrations. My favourite page by far is the one about pressure: a super-cool pop-up of a guy lying on a bed of nails on the left hand page of the spread, whilst on the facing page there is a pull-the-tab water pistol. Learning physics was never this much fun when I was a kid. As well as the interactive elements, each of the sections also contains an experiment or two, designed to complement the scientific theory that is being put across.

Where's Asterix

Love Asterix? A fan of the Where's Wally books? (are they daft questions - surely everyone is an Asterix and who doesn't like the Where's Wally books?). If you are one of the minority who is unable to answer yes to both of those questions then please turn away now. However if, like me, you love them both then read on.

A while back the ever-lovely Nina Douglas at Orion sent me their latest Asterix book - not a new edition of one of the famous Asterix stories, but a brand new book aimed at Asterix fans of all ages. Called Where's Asterix? it plops Asterix and his multitude of Gallic friends (and Roman enemies) into a number of incredibly detailed scenes, and then asks you to find them. When I tell you that it is of course  illustrated by Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo you will already know the quality of the illustrations within. As soon as it arrived I found myself poring through the pages, looking to score laurel wreaths by finding the likes of Asterix, Obelix, Getafix the druid, Chief Vitalstatistix, and many others. I thought it would be easy - it isn't. These big A3 sized double-page spreads are rich in colour and detail, so even the huge tub of lard that is Obelisk is occasionally difficult to find. This is definitely a worthy addition to my collection of Asterix books.


A huge percentage of school library budgets is spent on non-fiction books, and yet when I browse through the multitude of blogs that I follow I rarely ever see these books reviewed. Shame on us! And shame on the bookshops who are forever creating amazing displays of the latest fiction releases for kids, leaving the new non-fiction books to sit out of the way on the shelves in the darker corners of the store (I'm not joking - I have seen this on a number of occasions). You boys who love your non-fiction I applaud you, at least you are reading, and don't ever let anyone tell you that non-fiction doesn't count! 


  1. We have the Asterix book, in French, and my son loves it. It has kept him quiet on many a car journey.
    I so agree with you on your last paragraph. I despair of English teachers who only allow their students to read fiction during their reading lessons in the library.

  2. Love the sound of the physics pop up book! Have you seen the Cern pop up book?