Category Archives: Book review

Book Review: My First Book of Relativity

Title: My First Book of Relativity

Written by: Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferrón

Illustrated by: Eduard Altarriba

Published by: Button Books

My First Book of Relativity by Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferrón

Before we can understand Einstein’s special theory of relativity we need to fully understand what time and space is. My First Book of Relativity achieves this as it starts by explaining exactly what time is and how it is measured, from sundials to the exceptionally accurate atomic clock. Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferrón then goes on to define in a beautiful concise way what space is and how it is measured, explaining how using standard units of measurement, such as the metre stick, came into being.

The next important concept to understand is speed. Again, Sheddad Kaid-Salah Ferrón, walks the reader through the concept of speed in a clear and easy to understand fashion, so that when he goes on to explain how movement is relative it just all makes sense and the reader can make the connection instantly to how frames of reference are used to measure positions, distances and speed, just as Galileo Galilei had said 400 years ago. Her then goes on to explain exactly why light always travel at the same speed of 299,792 kilometres per second. The illustrations support and extend the readers understanding with each double-page spread having its own distinctive limited palette.

Each of Einstein’s thought experiments are broken down into small segments by organising the text into short, distinctive sections using the engaging illustrations, bullet points, bold and capitalised words to emphasise important information. My First Book of Relativity talks us through the incredibly difficult to understand concepts of time dilation, length contraction and mass increasing outlined by Einstein in his special theory of relativity in a fun, appealing and easy-to-read way so it is accessible to young readers of about 8+.

This is an ideal book for introducing the concepts of speed, light and movement to the class, or your own child. I believe it will inspire young scientists to think about time and space and even come up with their own thought experiments.

This book review was previously published on the online Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine.

Book Review – Bang goes a Troll

Title: Bang Goes a Troll (Awfully Beastly Business)

Written by: The Beastly Boys (David Sinden, Matthew Morgan and Guy MacDonald)

Illustrated by: Jonny Duddle

Published by: Aladdin Paperbacks (Simon & Schuster)

Bang goes a Troll

A gripping adventure that keeps you turning page after page. Beautifully executed, this story transports the reader into a compelling fantasy world where humans are the unrelenting baddies and the goblins, trolls and werewolves are the heroes, trying against all odds to protect themselves.

In the third book in the Beastly Business series, Ulf has to stop the troll’s being smoked out of their homes and used as targets in a beast-hunting range, without being hunted too.

An exciting read that will satisfy lovers of epic battles and narrow escapes.

This book review was previously published on the online Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine


Book Review – Escape from Shadow Island

Title: Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island

Written by: Paul Adam

Publisher: Corgi Books, Random House

Max Cassidy Escape from Shadow Island

At first it made me smirk when I read the Random House warning in the front of the book telling the readers not to try any of the stunts as home, as escapologists have had years of training before they attempt them… and then I read the first page. The hero Max is handcuffed, chained, put in a sack and lowered into a tank of cold water. He has thirty seconds to escape, or freeze to death. Red lights flashed in my head as I thought of my own sons and I honestly considered writing to Random House to tell them to put the warning in CAPITAL LETTERS.

This is the first Max Cassidy adventure in the trilogy. Max’s Houdini-style stunts have the reader gripped from the start. When Max finds out his father may still be alive, you are carried into one impossible situation after another and you can’t help wondering, ‘How on Earth is Max going to escape from this?’ There are several clever twists and the characters are very believable. This murder-mystery thriller action-adventure will have boys gasping for more.

This book review was previously published on the online Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine.

Book Review: Mustafa’s Jumper

Title: Mustafa’s Jumper

Written by: Coral rumble

Illustrated by: Charlotte Cooke

Published by: Wacky Bee

Mustafas Jumper

Mustafa’s Jumper is based on a poem of the same name also by Coral Rumble. The poem won the prestigious Caterpillar Poetry Prize in 2018. Rewritten in prose this story gives a child’s point of view of having a refugee who speaks no English, temporarily in your class at school and how they feel when the child is sent back to the country they were trying to escape from, which is highlighted by the single school uniform jumper that is left behind in the cloakroom.

It is written in Milo’s point of view, a quiet introvert boy whose best friend, Eddie, is the total opposite. Eddie get chosen to look after the new boy but has no idea what to say or do with a boy who can’t speak his language. Milo understands what it is like to feel like an outsider so he does what he can to include him: he plays with him, shows him what to do and where to go, and invites him home to tea. Milo and Mustafa become good friends.

Throughout the book it highlights patience and kindness by showing how Milo helps his new friend. The ‘show not tell’ plot is ideal for demonstrating and developing empathy in young children.

This is a great book for triggering discussion in the classroom about immigration, asylum seekers and refugees. There is a page at the back that talks about reasons why people have to leave countries and how sometimes people leave their homes because of war, a natural disaster or terrorism means it is too dangerous to stay. It also highlights how difficult it can be starting from scratch in a new country and explains some people like Mustafa are sent back. Could be used for discussion in both KS1 and KS2.

Book Review – Magnetic First Words

Title: Magnetic First Words – Days Out

Written by: Michelle Trowell

Illustrated by: Barry Green

Published by: Top That! Publishing

Magnetic First Words - Days

This hard-board book contains over 100 magnetic first words around the theme of Days Out. It has been designed to promote literacy skills, help hand-eye coordination and to encourage parent-child interaction. The pages are magnetic so the words and numbers do not easily fall off and the pages can be turned leaving the magnets in place.

Barry Green’s bold, double-page spread illustrations contain a lot of action, ideal for prompting discussion whilst matching the words to the pages. The children can also invent their own sentences linked to the lively pictures which include children playing by the lake, at the fair and on the beach.

The book contains many of the high frequency sight words the children are required to learn from reception upwards. In my opinion the book will make learning fun and will definitely help with sight recognition of these high frequency words (such as: we, she, look, on, can, etc.) as they have to search through all the words provided for the correct word to match.

Suitable for children aged three upwards, I think they would also make an ideal activity for KS1 children in a reading corner. You will need a pretty little pot to keep all the magnets in though once you have taken them out to use.

Book Review – Refugees

Title: Refugees

Written by: Brian Bilston

Illustrated by: José Sanabria

Published by: Palazzo

Edited by: Gemma Farr


For my 200th blog post I have blogged my review of Refugees by Brian Bilston and José Sanabria.

This is ‘cleverly crafted book picture book that highlights prejudices and bigotry. The poem can be read both forwards and backwards to show two opposing views about refugees. The provides a brilliant opportunity for discussion and a way to talk about fear and hate and the need for compassion, understanding and empathy. I particularly like the way the poem is laid out on the left of the spread when read forward and on the right side when it is re-written backwards in the second half of the book.

The colours used for the illustrations also help to convey the different moods and feelings, with dark sad-faced images to show the fear and mistrust and brighter, colourful images with happy smiling faces to demonstrate people from different races and cultures are all the same all around the world, doing the same jobs, same activities and everyday routines. An excellent book to promote debate.

The book would be ideal for PSHE classes not only at KS1 or KS2 but also KS3 and KS4 as the opposing views are relevant for all ages. It would also be interesting to have children craft their own similar poems to show opposing views on this and other subjects, such as climate change, conservation and even Brexit.

This book review was previously published on the online Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine.

Book Review – Great Buildings

Title: The Picture History of Great Buildings

Written and illustrated by:  Gillian Clements

Published by: Frances Lincoln

Great Buildings

Gillian Clements detailed illustrations are a fantastic introduction to the wide variety of architectural styles throughout history across the whole world. The writing is concise and informative providing a wealth of information to satisfy the most inquisitive of minds. This book would be great for dipping into as well as for looking in-depth at the history of specific buildings, their designers and the impact the buildings have on architecture today.

From a teaching point of view, Great Buildings, would be an ideal book for the classroom to supplement history topics on the Romans, Greeks, Aztecs and the Egyptians, as well as supporting technology topics on bridges, skyscrapers and ICT modelling. The book could even inspire a Religious Education topic on churches. I particularly like the way it has been organised in chronological order starting with the first homes, cities and ancient monuments right through to postmodern building, contemporary and beyond.

Great Buildings is unique in that it provides excellent timelines to show what other buildings were being constructed at the time in different parts of the world, to give an overall picture, which I have not found anywhere else.

This book review was previously published on the online Armadillo Children’s Book Review Magazine.