Title: How to be Extraordinary
Written by: Rashmi Sirdeshpande
Illustrated by: Annabel Tempest
Published by: Puffin Books
How to be Extraordinary is a non-fiction picture book containing the real-life stories of 15 extraordinary people from all over the globe, who have made incredible achievements. There is a good mix of well-known and lesser-known males and females from a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds. Each person is presented in a double-page spread, which outlines where they are from, their childhood, beliefs, jobs and their greatest accomplishments despite all obstacles, with inspirational quotes to encourage others to follow their dreams. My favourite quote is:
“What would you like to be remembered for?” (Abdul Kalam)
It is aimed at ages 5-7 years (KS1) and meets the requirements of the history programmes of study for KS1 as it documents the lives of significant individuals who have contributed to national and international achievements. The illustrations are bold and colourful. They catch the eye and will keep young readers turning the pages. But the vocabulary and size of the text is very advanced for this age range so they would mostly need adult support to get the most out of this book unless they are particularly talented and able.
I personally think How to be Extraordinary being will be more popular with children ages 7-11 years (KS2). I feel that more picture books of this high-standard containing narrative non-fiction are needed for the older primary age range, especially as the snippets of information do not have to be read in any particular order, which is great for children with low attention spans who prefer to dip in and out of the book.
This book would provide an excellent springboard for encouraging pupils to research their own extraordinary person, which could be stuck into a class book or encyclopaedia with their own illustrations or photos printed from the Internet. Throughout the book the emphasises is on how with determination and hard work anything is possible.
This book review was previously published on the online Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine.