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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


discussed


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


to.


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


grandmother


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


on


provides how


to go about their own research, understanding the


difference


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


HHHH


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


useful


in all sorts take


and


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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