One year, at the town fair, my Mum got roped into buying encyclopaedias. Back then, encyclopaedia and Tupperware salesmen door-stepped you almost as often as the Avon lady – all now sadly lost to a bygone era. But with no computer in the house (err bit early for that) and four kids in school, Mum saw the 32 encyclopaedias as a good investment; those beautiful maroon books, with gold leaf edging. Anything we ever needed to know was held in those hefty tomes. The deadliest snake in the world, Sir Francis Drake’s voyage route, flags of the world… Encyclopaedia Britannica had the answer. The next closest thing to non-fiction on our shelf was a book about the Loch Ness Monster and Abominable Snowman (!), and of course, the Guinness Book of Records.
As kids we could never have imagined that non-fiction could be as luscious and engaging as the books coming out today.
In fact Publishers Weekly says: “the golden age of non fiction picture books is here” – gorgeous, oversized books that are beautifully illustrated and hugely readable for kids and adults alike. Two such books to have landed on my desk in the last few weeks are Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures by Matt Sewell and A World of Cities by James Brown and Lily Murray.
It’s impossible to know more about dinosaurs than a four-year-old, but luckily Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures is giving me some prehistoric pointers! Bursting with huge illustrations, Matt Sewell – an avid ornithologist, best known for his illustrated books on birds – gives us loads of up-to-date info about the best loved, as well as the little known, dinosaurs and prehistoric birds. From their habitat and appearance to colour (experts now think they might have been brightly coloured). There’s plenty to sink your teeth into.
Then it’s time to explore the planet in A World of Cities brought to us by illustrator and print maker James Brown, who was also behind Walker’s A World of Information’ It’s your ticket to the mega metropolises as you climb Paris’ Eiffel Tower before wandering through the bustling streets of New Delhi in this wonder of a book. It’s bold, brightly coloured and bursting with facts about the history and culture of each city, thanks to detailed contributions from Lily Murray (who brought us ‘Dinosaurium’).
Gosh, we really do love these non-fiction books! My two munchkins spend many a happy evening, lying on their tummies and pouring over every detail with their torches. Please keep making more!