Tag Archives: non-fiction

Horrible Histories: Horribly Hilarious Joke Book by Terry Deary


IMG_5394Horrible Histories: Horribly Hilarious Joke Book by Terry Deary and illustrated by Martin Brown and Philip Reeve, paperback, 86 pages, published by Scholastic Ltd in 2009.

This is a collection of historical jokes, just right for middle to upper primary school students. The book is divided into sections based on the popular Horrible Histories books, such as jokes from the Groovy Greeks or the Incredible Incas. Many of the jokes were rather cringe-worthy and perfect for “Dad Jokes”, so I laughed a lot, and so did my kids. There are plenty of black and white illustrations to make you laugh too! It is a rather short book with only a few jokes on each page, so it was a quick read, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed. We quite like this sort of humour in our house!


Horrible Histories: Wicked Words by Terry Deary


IMG_4953Horrible Histories: Wicked Words by Terry Deary and illustrated by Philip Reeve, paperback non-fiction, 191 pages, first published by Scholastic Ltd in 1996, this edition published in 2011.

Learn about the origins of the English language in this witty and engaging book from the Horrible Histories series.

Horrible Histories makes learning history lots of fun, and Wicked Words is no exception. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and learnt quite a number of things along the way! It includes history of the development of English as a language, from when Romans ruled Britain through to modern times. It also explains various facets of the language. There is information about words borrowed from other languages, and about the idiosyncrasies that litter the English language. You can learn about onomatopoeia, euphemisms, riddles, slang, spelling, grammar and important people in the world of words, among many other things that make English the language it is today. There are plenty of jokes as well as some word games that could be fun to play. My kids thought the ‘knock, knock’ jokes were terrible, but they still laughed!

Wicked Words is illustrated throughout with comic-like black and white drawings. These help to explain the text, while breaking it up and making it more light-hearted and fun to read. Some of these illustrations are very clever and funny.

Full of facts and insights into the development of the English language, Wicked Words is a fascinating read for middle primary school students and up. I really enjoyed reading this book and felt that I learnt plenty about words in the process!


Fluid Mechanics: A Fairy Tale by Sarah Allen


Fluids Fairy Tale CoverFluid Mechanics: A Fairy Tale by Sarah Allen, e-book, 21 pages, published in 2013.

What an interesting concept! Learn about physics through the telling of a fairy tale. The first section of the book tells the fairy tale, while the second part goes over the physics concepts that were found within the story.

Once upon a time there was a princess… and she rocks! She becomes queen, and goes off to face the wizard that has stolen her baby daughter, and put her beloved husband into a never-ending sleep. Her husband’s brothers help her out in her quest, giving her a magical golden ball and a silver boat.

The fairy tale showed the Archimedes’ Principle, Buoyancy Force, Bernoulli’s Principle and Archimedes’ screw in action. The story was well written, and I enjoyed it. I also liked the Queen, who shows innovation, perseverance and courage along her quest. She faced the wizard, and solved his conundrum, using fluid mechanics, allowing the reader to explore an example of these concepts. They were then explained more fully in the second section. Simple diagrams were used to help illustrate the physics. This is a great way to introduce physics to younger students, or anyone having difficulty getting their heads around it. I found it was quite easy to understand the science in this format, and it hardly seemed like learning at all!

Suitable for kids from upper primary through high school and beyond, Fluid Mechanics: A Fairy Tale is a fantastic introduction to this interesting subject. More Sarah Allen science books are available through Amazon.


*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Bone Collection: Animals by Rob Colson


IMG_4093Bone Collection: Animals by Rob Colson and illustrated by Sandra Doyle, Elizabeth Gray and Steve Kirk, paperback non-fiction, published by Scholastic Australia in 2013.

Explore the animal world through their skeletons. Bone Collection: Animals covers a range of animals from fish and frogs to apes and humans. First it looks at the skeleton of a specific animal, then follows this with facts about similar animals. At the end of the book, there was a double page with a lion’s skeleton separated with the major bones named. There were also some general bone facts, and a glossary to help with some of the terms found within the text that may be unknown to a young reader.

A combination of illustrations, photos and diagrams alongside fascinating facts about a wide variety of creatures make this an excellent non-fiction text for primary school students. The illustrations of the skeletons throughout this book are exquisitely detailed. The depth of information is good for this age group, whilst also being interesting and presented in an appealing style.

My third grader read this book to me, and we both learnt quite a few things! She just wanted to keep reading until we were finished, as she was finding it so entertaining and enlightening. We liked that each page had a little diagram showing the relative size of the creature to an adult human. Her favourite animal was the three-toed sloth with its long arms and claws, while I found the blue whale’s humungous jaw bones very interesting.

Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals by Heather L. Montgomery


IMG_3949Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals by Heather L. Montgomery, paperback non-fiction, published by Scholastic Inc. in 2013.

There are still millions of undiscovered species all over the world. This book showcases just a few of the most interesting creatures discovered recently, including a leech with large teeth, a frog with translucent skin and green bones, a blue earthworm, a tiny seahorse and a stick insect as long as your arm!

Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals is an interesting read. Each page contains plenty of facts about each creature, including its scientific name, size, role and where it was discovered. There are also plenty of colour photographs depicting the animals and their various traits. There is a glossary of terms at the back of the book and a small section on kids discovering new animals.

An enticing non-fiction book for primary school children, Wild Discoveries Wacky New Animals would appeal to nature and animal lovers along with those interested in more unusual (or gross) fare. I cannot un-see the “snot flower” or the Atewa Hooded Spider, but I can refocus on the cute little Siau Island Tarsier! My third grader found this book fascinating, and is now looking into more wacky and strange animals.

Explorers: Insects and Minibeasts by Jinny Johnson


IMG_2741Explorers: Insects and Minibeasts by Jinny Johnson, paperback non-fiction, 31 pages, first published by Kingfisher in 2011, this edition published by Kingfisher in 2014.

This is another title in the Kingfisher Explorers series of non-fiction for children. The information is pitched well for preschoolers and primary school children, with full colour illustrations and photography throughout.

The layout is simple and the facts interesting. There is lots to learn about bugs and creepy crawlies in this book. It looks at life cycles, insect homes, diets and water creatures. My preschooler particularly liked the pages on camouflage, and defense. She liked the thorn bugs.

As I read through Explorers: Insects and Minibeasts with my preschooler I saw plenty of insects that were new to me, and I learnt right along with her. It’s nice to find non-fiction books that my kids enjoy and that provide us all with opportunities for learning.


Optical Illusions by Dr Gareth Moore


IMG_2514Optical Illusions by Dr Gareth Moore, hardback non-fiction, 96 pages, published by Parragon Books Ltd in 2013.

Optical Illusions presents more than 150 different images with explanations of these truly amazing illusions. The book was broken up into sections containing different types of illusions, such as perspective illusions, movement illusions, and colour illusions.

Both my daughter and myself pored over this book for hours allowing our minds to be tricked by the images. Some of them we had to move closer or further away to experience the illusion, and a few I couldn’t see at all, but most of them were very obvious. Even knowing that it was an illusion, it was incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to ignore the trick and see the image for what it really was. I loved trying though!

There was a handy little visual interpreter card inside the front cover that could be used to remove the illusion. Throughout the book, if an image could be decoded using the visual interpreter, there was a coloured circle besides the illusion indicating which part of the visual interpreter to use. This made checking whether lines were really straight or areas were the same colour much easier. My second grader liked using this visual interpreter to help her to see the reality of the image.

Optical Illusions is a very entertaining book that really has to be seen to be believed!


Explorers: Big Cats by Claire Llewellyn


IMG_2522Explorers: Big Cats by Claire Llewellyn, hardback non-fiction, 32 pages, published by Kingfisher (Macmillan Children’s Books) in 2013.

This junior non-fiction title is part of the Explorers range of reference books for young learners produced by Kingfisher. It is packed with facts about big cats from around the world, and is the perfect introduction to exploring these amazing animals.

Explorers: Big Cats is suitable for preschool, lower and middle primary school students. It is an interesting look at big cats, and would make an excellent reference for school assignments. Children will learn a little about different types of big cats, habitats, diets and big cat interactions. This is an introductory text, so the depth of information is not extensive, but suits the target audience well. The information is presented in an engaging and logical way, and is not overwhelming for younger readers. The realistic illustrations and clear photography enhance the text, and assist in engaging the reader. This book will satisfy younger readers, and will also inspire children to discover more about these incredible creatures.

Both my second grader and preschooler enjoyed Explorers: Big Cats a lot. They are both highly interested in animals and nature, and this non-fiction title was an anticipated read. My preschooler now wants to have a trip to the zoo to see some big cats (something that we do regularly anyway!) and my second grader has asked me to locate some more books on big cats for her to read. I love watching my children learning about the world, and books like Explorers: Big Cats make that journey fun. I learnt a few things about big cats that I didn’t know too! Now I’m interested to find some more titles in the Explorers series to read.

Freaky Phobias by Joel Levy


IMG_2519Freaky Phobias by Joel Levy, paperback non-fiction, 80 pages, published by Scholastic Australia in 2011.

This book is a fascinating insight into a range of phobias. It covers the most common ones, such as arachnophobia and claustrophobia, alongside some extremely unusual phobias. I never knew there was a word for the fear of otters or knees or kissing, but there is! And there are many other phobias that I had never considered, but discovered in Freaky Phobias.

Freaky Phobias is an informative and interesting book for primary aged children. I learnt quite a lot whilst reading Freaky Phobias, as did my second grader. It had a good depth of information for children, and plenty of fun facts to engage the reader. The photography depicted all of the terrors contained within the book with such clarity that my second grader wanted to skip some of the pages because she felt anxious.

Freaky Phobias contains an A-Z of Phobias, providing the names and descriptions of quite a few phobias. I think this glossary could have been enhanced by including the phonetic spelling of the names, as some of them are quite long and complicated words, which I had difficulty pronouncing.

This is quite a good non-fiction title for young learners (and big ones too!)


Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs by Kel Richards and Glen Singleton


IMG_1489Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs by Kel Richards and illustrated by Glen Singleton, hardback non-fiction, 25 pages, published by Scholastic Australia in 2014.

Over the years we have read many dinosaur books, but I think this is the first one exclusively about Australian dinosaurs. It is a clear and simple introduction to this topic, suitable for preschoolers and lower primary school children. It contains facts about each dinosaur, with quirky illustrations on every page. My preschooler liked the carnivores running around with knives and forks. Her favourite dinosaur is Minmi, and she liked that a carnivore’s knife and fork were drawn crumpled from trying to penetrate her hard bony plates.

There is a glossary of Australian dinosaurs at the back of the book with a picture, the full name, phonetic pronunciation and the meaning of the dinosaur’s name. We tried saying all of the names aloud, some of them were quite difficult!

Prefect for all small dinosaur lovers, Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs deserves a place in any dinosaur book collection!