Oh I love non-fiction books for children, the benefits of this category of book are overwhelming, they’re engaging, educational, inspiring, dip-in-and-outable (yes I’ve just invented a new term), perfect for children who find novels and fiction challenging to follow, or who just want cold hard facts. They encourage a love of already loved topics, they are brilliant, and sadly, undervalued. Now in the interests of transparency, I will own up right now, that the books in this blog have been illustrated by my very own fiancé, however, I will also say right now, that this bias has not affected my review, and I would have happily shared these books regardless as I truly do think they are wonderful.
They are WOW! Vehicles and WOW! Dinosaurs, written by Jacqueline McCann, illustrated by Steven Johnson and published by Kingfisher (an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Books).
When I’m tidying up the bookshelves in the library where I work, and deciding on books to display, the two subjects I pretty much always put on the display shelves are vehicles and dinosaurs. Why? Because they are insanely popular!! I can pretty much guarantee that the books on these topics I display will be gone within the day such is their popularity among the children who visit the library. There is just something about vehicles and dinosaurs that children seem to be utterly fascinated and excited by, so these two books could not have been more perfect.
When these two books landed on our doormat the other week I was so incredibly excited by them, bright and bold front covers with beautiful embossing, the paperback and hardback editions have been treated with quality and designed perfectly with children in mind. The simple clear covers are so eye-catching, they are just the right size for big bold artwork, but small enough for children to carry.
One of the real treats with these is when you step inside the books, they are crammed full of brilliant little facts and vivid, gorgeous illustrations which are exciting and engaging to look at and brilliant to share with children. One of the fab aspects of these books is the quality of the information inside, the facts have been carefully chosen to provide snippets of information about vehicles and dinosaurs that you may not already know, and for children who already love these subjects these facts will hopefully teach them something they didn’t know before. Here are a couple of examples for you:
“The Leibherr is the most powerful mobile crane ever built. It can lift up to 1200 tonnes – that’s heavier than 100 elephants!”
“The bones in Dreadnoughtus’ neck contained lots of tiny air holes. These helped to keep the dino’s neck lightweight (and possibly cooled it down too), so Dreadnoughtus could lift its head and munch on leaves high up.”
Jacqueline has done such a marvellous job with both of these books, ensuring they not only contain interesting and relevant facts, but that they are written in a simple and clear way that children and adults can fully understand, intended to stimulate discussion between carer and child. Alongside the facts and figures are lots of silly little fun lines to make children chuckle and emphasise the content too.
As for the illustrations in this book, oh they are as wonderful as the words, bright, bold, they are strong, well researched and colourful artworks that sell these books from the outset and reinforce the facts within the text. They have such charm and character to enable them to retain the fun factor for children to look at. The little hints at humour are just brilliant. Keep an eye out for the pigeon in a flap, a cutie little pug dog and teeny tiny human giving an enormous dinosaur some sense of scale. These little details give the book massive re-readability and will make you grin throughout. The colours are amazingly bright and bold helping the books to have fresh and modern style unlike anything I’ve seen before in non-fiction. It is often the visual appeal of a book that will make a child choose it, and illustrations like this will make them want to snatch the book off the shelves in the first place, and then get right to learning from the fab facts contained inside. It’s this kind of team effort that makes for truly enriching children’s non-fiction.
Steven’s illustrations are perfectly suited for children’s books, with bags of lovely character, but realism enough to still identify clearly the different traits of the dinosaurs and vehicles to match the facts. With texture, detail and personality they are wonderfully effective and such a joy to look at.
WOW! Vehicles and WOW! Dinosaurs are everything I look for in non-fiction, inclusive, fun, interesting and beautifully illustrated to make for books children will genuinely love to pick up. I have absolutely no doubt that both this books will be on our library shelves for a very short amount of time, and that, really, is endorsement enough.
Both Vehicles and Dinosaurs are due for release on 2nd May, 2019 and will be available from all good bookshops and libraries (both hardback and paperback editions available), and I’m looking forward to seeing more books from this series soon.
You can find out more about illustrator Steven Johnson on his highly illustrated corner of the Internet right here:
Publishers Pan Macmillan can be found right here:
We received these titles from Kingfisher Books, but not specifically for the purpose of review.
Thank you for reading this WOW! Book Monster review.