Two years ago I blogged about the book Real-Life Mysteries a fabulous investigative non-fiction book about mysterious creatures and the unexplained which went on to win the Blue Peter Book Award ‘Best Book with Facts‘. I’m so thrilled to welcome the next in this series, Real-Life Disasters, written by Susan Martineau, designed & illustrated by Vicky Barker and published by B Small Publishing.
As I sit here in lockdown, writing blog posts, it seems so many books are pertinent to our situation, I wonder if B Small and team even had a clue how appropriate the last section of this book would be do us now when they created it. Real-Life disasters is a non-fiction title examining various real life events that have taken place and delving deep into what caused them, what went wrong and eyewitness statements all intended to help children engage with historical events.
The style of these books are just fantastic, and Real-Life Disasters doesn’t disappoint, it helps children learn about historical events in bitesized chunks that are easy to take in and exciting to read. I’ve always found survivor stories fascinating, how a series of unfortunate events can mount up to tell the most tragic or inspiring of stories, and it’s certainly a fantastic way to get kids into history. The book covers such disasters as the sinking of the Titanic, the extinction of dinosaurs, numerous disasters caused by wild weather, World War One disaster and, the most appropriate one for today, Deadly Diseases. After a brief introduction to each disaster, helping children familiarise with what happened, there is a page full of fascinating facts which really delve deeper into what happened in each case. Short paragraphs presented in such a way as to be accessible and easily read and explored, perfect for kids of all abilities.
The design of these books are brilliant and so unique. They’ve been put together like a dossier of files as if you’ve walked into a detective’s office and plucked them out of their drawer. post-it notes and small snippets of information presented in a fun format help make it a really easy book to navigate and children can feel part of the investigation themselves. It’s an ideal way to help them absorb lots of facts and information in one go rather than overloading them with text heavy pages.
The illustrations are bright and bold. Although the stories in many cases involve deaths, the illustrations have been sensitively done and the cartoon feel to them helps lessen the effect of any potentially upsetting scenes. for anyone who may be concerned by the potentially frightening content, this book has been very sensitively designed and is completely age appropriate in written detail and illustration.
Like The incredibly successful aspects of the first book have been continued here making for another fantastic non-fiction read that children will be fascinated by, and want to read over and over.
There’s no doubt that a lot of humans, particularly children, are fascinated by the strange, unusual and sometimes macabre side of life. It’s something we spend a lot of time protecting them from, yet how can we learn from past mistakes if we don’t know about them? And the first step in effective teaching is presenting content that interests children. This first introduction to real disastrous events, teaches children investigative skills, to not take things at face value, to research and to learn from mistakes made in the past. But most of all this book is entertaining and fascinating and a book they will choose to read for pleasure. Look at the images above showing the insides of this book, I needn’t say anymore right?
Real-Life Disasters is available now from all good bookshops and libraries. You can order directly from B Small’s website, which is what we did and it arrived incredibly quickly.
Thank you for reading this hopefully not disastrous Book Monster review.