This summer we’ve been diving into some fantastic and gorgeously illustrated non-fiction books, from recent and ancient history, to nature and cultures. We’ve picked some of our favourites to share with you in our short non-fiction review round-up!
The Titanic is always of interest in schools, and our first book Rescuing Titanic by Flora Delargy (published by Wide Eyed Editions) is an absolute must for any collection on the subject. Unlike most books, this one doesn’t focus solely on the ill-fated ship itself, but rather looks at the role played by RMS Carpathia and her crew, not to mention their passengers, as they courageously steamed through the ice field to reach the stricken Titanic.
Watch the clock as you follow both ships through that fateful night in this dramatic and highly-illustrated book, full of information that is often overlooked. It’s no surprise to see it on the Klaus Flugge Prize 2022 shortlist, for one of the most promising children’s picture book debuts.
A total of 706 passengers and crew were hailed aboard the Carpathia; ‘Rescuing Titanic’ is a fitting title.
More history now with Thames & Hudson’s Cleopatra Tells All! written by Chris Naunton and colourfully illustrated by Guilherme Karsten. This book really brings the Queen back to life, allowing her to tell us her highs and lows in this personal account. From her family murders and the pros and cons of ruling, to how to promote yourself without social media, what happens when it all goes wrong, and why you can’t visit Cleopatra’s city of Alexandria today, Naunton gives us a fun and digestible look at life as Queen.
Cleopatra Tells All! is a fun way to get to know the pharaohs of Egypt without the boring bits. It’s also the second book in the ‘History Speaks’ series, following on from King Tutankhamun Tells All! – we hope we’ll be seeing more of them in the future!
Thank you to Thames & Hudson for sending us the copy of Cleopatra Tells All! that we used for this review.
Two more gloriously illustrated books now, about our world and the people who live in it.
First up is One World: 24 hours on Planet Earth, written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Jenni Desmond (published by Walker Books).
It’s midnight and quiet in Greenwich, London, but what’s the time and what’s happening elsewhere across our planet? Starting in the Arctic Circle with a family of polar bears, Davies takes us on a journey visiting many different animals and habitats, with every double-page spread capturing the character and essence of each different place.
The relatively small amount of text and bold drawings makes this accessible to younger readers, giving them information while gently touching on the environmental issues each place faces. It’s certainly a book to be treasured and shared.
And finally, what is our world without a little culture? This is Our World, written by Tracey Turner and illustrated by Asa Gilland (published by Macmillan Children’s Books), allows us to glimpse the lives of 20 children, living in as many different ways.
Each child tells us their name and gives us a brief insight into their way of life. Visit Esrin in her rock house of Cappadocia, Nou in the Cambodian floating village of Kampong Phluk, or Connor in the Shetland Islands. Like the previous book, each child and place receives a double-page spread, illustrated with details showing not just the children and their homes, but also their surroundings and some of the animals that live there.
A wonderful book that draws together some of the many children and cultures that make up the rich and varied lives in Our World.
If you like the look of any of the books we’ve talked about, you can grab a copy at the links above.
(Disclosure: If you buy books linked to our site, we may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops.)
If you’re looking for more books on history or nature, you can check out some of our other reviews at the links provided!