reviews 8 – 10 Junior/Middle continued

uncomfortable with this aspect of the book. But for many readers, Ralphs’ lively and respectful approach to a complex subject will be welcomed. As he points out, “fewer people believe in magic these days” but it “still has a powerful hold on our imaginations.” Season of the Witch is particularly recommended

at Halloween (to

provide depth, breadth and context) but will fascinate young readers all year round. CFH

illustrations are equally accessible

and emotionally true and it’s a book that will prompt

young readers to

examine their own feelings and fears, and to understand why anger can be a response sadness or anxiety. SD

The Virus HHHHH

Ben Martynoga, ill. Moose Allain, David Fickling, 160pp, 978 1 78845 210 6, £6.99 pbk

Author Ben Martynoga, a biologist and science writer, and illustrator Moose Allain have united very effectively to produce this timely and informative book. It succeeds admirably in explaining the

complex subject of

off with him in his hot air balloon on the trail of truth, adventure and – she hopes – her long-lost mother. Horace of course is caught up too and the relationship between these two motherless children (the queen died when he was five) is one of the many enjoyable aspects of this story. The children’s adventures new experiences

them and

bring new

friends but into danger too – there’s an unforgettable encounter with man- eating plants, and a surprising run-in with those eponymous pirates. Echo is a truly sympathetic character, her adventures

unfold at a delightful

pace and are livened with humour as well as those moments of real peril, while Alfons is most definitely a villain for our times. It’s heartening too that on her journey into the unknown, Echo learns so much about herself. A thoroughly enjoyable read.aMMa

Season of the Witch HHHH

Written by Matt Ralphs, ill. Nuria Tamarit, Flying Eye Books, 80pp, 978-1-912497-53-9, £12.99, hbk

Season of the Witch is a lively and well-rounded account of the role of magic in different cultures throughout history, from Ancient Mesopotamia to the present day. Narrative retellings of myths and folktales feature alongside historical

and information, together

anthropological with an

exploration of superstition and belief. From the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Baba Yaga via Japanese Hannya masks and Vodou to Gerald Gardner, founder of modern-day Wicca, the content is diverse, engaging and considered. Tamarit’s

illustrations ‘groovy Seventies’ have aesthetic are a that

will appeal to teens as well as older primary-age children, and Ralphs’ text is well-pitched for his target audience. Magical beliefs


throughout in a non-fiction context. Occasionally the boundary between reality and fiction becomes a little blurred, and some families may be

viruses in general, and the COVID-19 virus in particular, in such a way as to appeal to a wide range of young people, and, indeed, to adults. The engaging writing style unites with the witty and detailed illustrations to take the reader on an engrossing and educational journey through the world of viruses, pandemics, immune

systems, and Butterfly Brain HHHHH

Laura Dockrill, illus Gwen Millward, Piccadilly Press, 978-1848128682, £9.99 hbk

Written in poppy, bouncy rhyme that asks to be read aloud, Laura Dockrill’s book opens with a warning: this is a cautionary tale and ‘rather strange and sort of gory’. Gus certainly seems to be setting himself up for a fall, arguing with everyone, kids and grown-ups alike, and constantly leaning back on his char no matter how many times he’s told not


Sure enough, the inevitable happens, Gus topples backwards and cracks his head open.

It’s at this point

that the story begins to open up into something much more interesting and

profound than it originally

seemed. Gus’s dreams, imagination and memories leak out through the crack that’s opened up in his head. It’s a genuinely disconcerting image but the dark is lightened – literally in the illustrations – by the arrival of a golden butterfly, his very own ‘brain butterfly’ in fact. Together they will recover all of Gus’s memories, even those that frighten him or make him sad, and that’s where they find the cause of his anger, the anger that has made him so intractable. The story is one of grief, loss but ultimately recovery as Gus can finally talk to his dad and


vaccines. Complex information about viruses, including size, ability to infect and spread, is explained in an accessible way. Readers will also learn about the different types of virus, many of them essential to human life, and about ways to fight viruses and the climate crisis that makes their spread more likely. This excellent

introduction to

viruses, the most abundant life forms on the planet, combines humour and scientific facts to provide a must-read science book for enquiring minds of all ages. It deals with a vital subject and is full of astonishing facts and figures, a topical and enlightening read that is guaranteed to grab the attention. SR

a different aspect of the theme, for example

showing how the same

news story can be written in different ways and how scary headlines might sensationalize an event. Key concepts such as the difference between facts and speculation and bias are clarified and how to spot different types of fake news. Each page offers examples, poses questions and reassures. Key words such as ‘disinformation’, ‘endorse’ and corroborate

highlighted and there is also a glossary included at the back of the book. Question

guidance for

Everything children


provides how

to go about their own research, understanding the


between a primary and a secondary source, the importance of checking sources and facts to ‘corroborate’ your story and how to put ideas into your own words. The format reflects the message

that information can be presented in varied ways. It is highly accessible with a clear layout. This slim volume provides a very

useful guide designed to help children develop

critical literacy skills and

navigate the amount of information we are bombarded with. There is guidance on how to avoid being drawn into unpleasantness on social media and ways to stay safe online. It is interactive and includes activities throughout, such as how to find up to date information or write a news story and even suggesting having a 1980s party, ie with no possibility of taking ‘selfies’! SMc

Invisible Nature: a secret world beyond our senses


Catherine Barr, ill. Anne Wilson, Otter-Barry,40pp, 978-1-9105967-1, £12.99 hdbk

If children have ever wondered how dolphins find friends, how bats home in on their victims, or how spectacled bears find food many miles away, this is the book that will explain. Animals use light, scent, sound and forces beyond our human senses to survive, but many of the techniques they use can also be used in the human world. Catherine

Barr course explains that, microwaves are for

example, microwaves were produced even as far back as the Big Bang, when the universe was created, and of


in all sorts take


Question Everything! An Investigator’s Toolkit

HHHHH about

the secret he’s kept locked inside himself. Despite the weight of issues being discussed, the verse retains its spark, offering reassurance and pointing the way to a brighter future for Gus and anyone facing the loss he’s experienced. Gwen Millward’s

Susan Martineau and Vicky Barker, b small publishing, 32pp, 9 781912 90953, £5.99 pbk

This is a well thought out, interesting book which will encourage children to

ask themselves

questions about

and the think for information

they encounter. Each double page spread covers

cooking. Space cameras use them to

pictures use in hospitals, Radiotherapy

uses microwaves to attempt to kill cancerous cells. Animals

ultraviolet light:

certain lichen that reindeer eat glows in their vision, bees and butterflies see UV colour and patterns in flowers and on each other, and salmon can spot plankton to eat when they see the glow. We use ultraviolet light in lightbulbs, for killing germs in food, and in reflective ‘hi-vis’ clothing. Infrared light, magnetic power and electric waves, ultra- and infra- sound- all have their uses in the animal kingdom and also in our world.

Books for Keeps No.244 September 2020 25

of ways, not just for through

clouds, are

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