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Excellent Nonfiction Books for Kids read in October and November 2022 (ARC and non-ARC review)

I read some *excellent* kids’ nonfiction titles in October and November. They made perfect bedtime reading with my third grader, who devoured them with at least as much interest as me. Reviews of all three books below.

Explorers: Amazing Tales of the World’s Greatest Adventures by Nellie Huang

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Synopsis:

Live and see the world through the eyes of 50 of the world’s greatest explorers and their trusty companions!

This book for kids is brimming with first-person accounts of gripping adventures in explorers’ own words. Find exciting tales complemented by rare maps, specially commissioned photographs, and artworks that re-create history’s greatest expeditions. Get ready to take a leap into the unknown…

An adventure book that will surely rival even the most thrilling adventure movies! You’ll meet some of the most famous explorers and adventurers of all time in this exciting non-fiction storybook for children.

Great explorers have one thing in common – a desire to leap into the unknown, no matter the dangers it presents. This book will take you through Ferdinand Magellan’s first circumnavigation of the world 500 years ago to Barbara Hillary’s treks to the North and South poles while in her seventies, and beyond. This knowledge book documents the stories of men and women who rewrote our understanding of the world and inspired us by pushing the boundaries of human capability.

A kid’s educational book that looks at the towering achievements of more than 50 explorers from all walks of life in great detail. See sensational cross-sections revealing the amazing detail inside Spanish galleons, lost cities, and spaceships. Magnificent photographs highlight the artifacts and relics they found along the way, while hand-drawn maps reveal their intrepid journeys in such detail, you feel as though you could be walking in their very footsteps.

It is a glorious introduction to history’s most famous trailblazers – people whose courage opened frontiers turned voids into maps, forged nations, connected cultures, and added to humankind’s knowledge of the world by leaps and bounds. Packed with jaw-dropping fun facts about the world and written so beautifully it will get your heart racing. Explorers is the perfect kid’s book for any young mind with an avid sense of adventure!

Explore Unknown Waters – Take To The Skies – Investigate Our Planet!

For centuries, explorers have been unable to resist the secrets of the sea. We have looked toward the skies and stars since the beginning of time. Through dense jungles, dry desserts, and frozen mountains we have pushed the very limits of human endurance in the name of exploration and adventure!

These tales are not for the faint of heart – these adventurers faced challenges that threatened their very survival! Their courage has allowed us to collect a wealth of knowledge about our awe-inspiring universe.

Set sail to faraway frozen lands, defy gravity and take to the skies, and investigate our planet through the stories of those who came before us. Happy exploring!

Learn about the explorers who defied the so-called possibilities of their time in:

– Sea & Ice
– Air & Space
– And Land

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was an excellent book about explorers and their expeditions. Each explorer got a page or two-page spread filled with fascinating facts about them and what they discovered.

One thing I really, really liked about it is that it does not focus on the standard white / European explorers one learns about in school. Several of them are there, but there are also many non-European explorers, non-white explorers, and women explorers. There is also always a note at the end about the negative results of the expeditions. Like yes, it opened the new world up to Europe but it also exposed the indiginous peoples to new diseases and wiped out huge swaths of their populations, or exacerbated the slave trade, etc.

This book also doesn’t focus solely on conquering expeditions. There are scientific expeditions, deep-sea and outer-space expeditions, mountain-climbing and arctic exploration expeditions… There’s a huge variety of information in this book and my kiddo (8) ate it up.

It also avoids standard history-book pitfalls by having great writing that sucks you in and makes you want to know more about each expedition and explorer.


ARC Review: History’s BIGGEST Show-offs by Andy Seed

Publication Date: November 1, 2022

Synopsis:

Some people just can’t resist showing off… and this BIG book introduces readers to some of the biggest braggers and loudest show-offs throughout history. 

This book takes young readers on a tour of some of history’s greatest show-offs, from wealthy kings and queens who loved to splash the cash to masterful musicians who weren’t shy about their talents or brilliant artists who could not stop telling others how great they were.

Some of the showoffs in this book include:

Queen Marie Antoinette of France, who arrived for her wedding with 57 carriages pulled by 376 horses, 

Alexander the Great, who named more than 70 cities in his vast empire after himself,… and one after his horse!

The Montgolfier brothers, who showed off their flashy new invention, the hot air balloon, in front of huge crowds and even the King and Queen!
Andy Seed’s hilarious text brings these crazy but true stories to life, as he tells readers tales about massive palaces, fast cars, monster banquets, immense armies, frilly outfits, dazzling bling, musical masterpieces, epic artworks, outrageous inventions and much, much more!

Featuring long-dead leaders, artists, musicians and more, from all around the world, the snappy facts are paired with humorous character illustrations from the brilliant Sam Caldwell for maximum hilarity.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a super cute and fun book and has a surprising amount of easily digestible information about a variety of historical figures (and they’re not even all white guys!). There are a range of famous leaders, artists, scientists, writers, engineers, and entertainers that include a number of women and people of color.

The illustrations are whimsical and playful and the expressions on the people’s faces are hilarious. There are also many puns and funny comments that elementary- and middle-school-aged kids will love.

I actually love the way they have reframed the famous people included as “show-offs” because of how rich, talented, clever, powerful, and/or imaginative they were. It gives the whole book an irreverent air so you feel like you’re rebelling against staid and boring history professors everywhere.

It’s also an interesting point that some famous historical figures are pretty much just famous because of how rich they were. I mean, really rich people are still famous today. But if you think about it… they didn’t actually do anything to deserve that fame, unlike those famous for being talented and clever. I can see it spurring some interesting discussions.

I think it will really appeal to kids in the 7-14 range and plan on getting it for my 8-year-old for Christmas. I might read parts of it with him but I can also see him reading it on his own and enjoying it.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Quarto Publishing Group, and Francis Lincoln Childrens Books for providing an e-arc for review.


ARC Review: Lore of the Land: Folklore and Wisdom from the Wild Earth by Claire Cock-Starkey

Publication Date: October 18, 2022

Synopsis:

Unearth the secrets of our natural world with the Lore of the Land, a richly illustrated compendium of folklore and wisdom from the land, skies, and seas.

From thundering rivers to shady groves, flickering marshes to lightless caves, and from snow-capped mountains to the depths of the ocean, discover the folklore of Earth’s wildest places. Stories and spirits abound in these land- and seascapes, where traditional wisdom and mysterious magics have intertwined over centuries.

Each of the six chapters covers a different natural landscape, revealing the worldwide folklore surrounding Woodlands, Seas & Oceans, Wetlands, Mountains, Rivers & Streams,and Hills & Caves. Beginning with tales from cultures spanning the globe, each chapter then dives into the legends of how these places were formed, their place in the human imagination,and their natural and otherworldly denizens.

Learn how the forests hold up the sky in Māori tradition; how in Ireland, seaweed was once thought to predict the weather; and that the ancient Greeks believed Mount Etna housed the fiery forge of the gods. All this and more is accompanied by beautiful artwork based on real folklore, uncovering the secrets of our natural world as never before.

A treasury of fascinating tales and ancient wisdom, the Lore of the Land is sure to fire the imaginations of young nature-lovers, and delight anyone who has ever wondered whether there is more to our natural world than meets the eye.

Also in the series:
Lore of the Wild: Folklore and Wisdom from Nature

My Review:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This is a charming collection of myths, legends, and folklore about creatures and plants living in various environments (oceans, rivers, marshes, mountains, forests) and the natural features and environments themselves.

The folklore is arranged into sections based on environment rather than nationality, so that you get stories from around the world about rivers, or forests, etc all together. This is a wonderful way to arrange it because it makes it easy to compare different myths about the same features.

I really like how each bit of folklore is condensed into a short paragraph and is accompanied by illustrations. There are a few longer stories sprinkled throughout as well, which break up the reading nicely.

The illustrations are colorful and vivid and intriguing and make each bit of folklore come alive in the imagination. They add a lot to the book. The cover is also gorgeous.

My only complaint is the font chosen for this story. It would have been great if confined to headings or similar, but trying to read the entire book in that font was headache-inducing. It would be nearly impossible for a child learning to read or struggling with reading to make any sense of it.

**After some thought, I have decided to revise my rating. The godawful font chosen for ALL of the text is nearly impossible to read without going cross-eyed. It will prevent many people from being able to read it – including children who are learning or struggling to read. Since the book seems to be aimed at children, it’s basically sabotaging itself. I can’t in good conscience recommend it unless a different font is chosen.

I look forward to sharing this with my kiddo (8). I think he will really enjoy learning about the varied mythical creatures.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Wide-Eyed Editions for providing an e-arc for review.

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