Showing posts with label non fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label non fiction. Show all posts

Friday, 30 November 2018

Book Review: 'Football School Seasons 1, 2 and 3' by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton

Knowledge-rich curricula are all the rage in schools at the moment, and rightly so. And what better than knowledge-rich books to supplement what's being taught at school? I'll tell you: really interesting, really fun knowledge-rich books. Such books as Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton have written together: the Football School books.

The front cover of each of the three books carries the tagline 'Where football explains the world'. And although on each book the word 'explains' is crossed out and replaced (by 'rules', 'saves' and 'tackles') it really isn't just rhetoric. These books truly transcend football by using it as a conduit through which to explore a whole world of general knowledge as well as the football trivia.

The three books all follow the same format, kicking off with a contents page designed like a school timetable covering traditional subjects such as PSHE, History, Geography as well as some more specialist ones like Psychology, Philosophy, Business Studies and Computer Science.

Football lovers will devour the wealth of facts about football teams, players, team strips and will enjoy picking up playing tips too: there's a whole section on the psychology of taking a penalty, for example!

But the books' really majesty is in the fact that they are full of general knowledge that is unrelated to football. From sections about World War 1 to profiles of famous footballing countries such as Brazil readers will come away knowing about much more than just football. Book 3 even has a whole section about sleep which introduces its readers to terminology such as 'transitional phase' and 'circadian rhythm'.

And, just to make sure that some of the information is remembered, each section (or lesson) ends with a quiz about the chapter. With a multiple choice format these quizzes don't just focus on the football information but also on the general knowledge featured in the books.

But this sort of book wouldn't get a look-in without illustrations - Spike Gerrell's cartoon style makes for that winning formula of facts plus funny pictures; that format made popular by the Horrible Histories books. Children who love those and who are fans of books such as Diary of the Wimpy kid will be immediately drawn to these books. And it's not just the illustrations and the texts that appeal - the layout keeps things fresh with every page has its own interesting layout. Boredom will not be an issue whilst children (or adults) read these books.

With their simple yet engaging language the Football School books are pretty much an essential for any school bookshelf. Not that they would stay on the shelf for long - these are the exact sort of books that non-fiction lovers will be queuing up to borrow.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Guest Post: How To Write Non-Fiction by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton

Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton are the authors of the Football School series (as well as newspaper articles and several grown up books about maths, football, and... colouring in). Currently on book number three in the Football School series, Alex and Ben are experts at writing about facts and information. Here they give some advice to teachers and children about how to write those tricky non-fiction pieces of writing.

1) Choose a subject that you are passionate about. If you love something, then this passion will come through in the text.

2) Read! Non-fiction is writing with facts in it. Before you start writing you need to find facts about the subject you are writing about. One way to do this is to read: you can read websites, magazine articles and books. Make notes on what you read.

3) Speak to people! Another way to get facts is to ask people questions. For example, just say you want to write about pizza. You might want to go to your local pizzaria and ask the pizza chef some questions. They will know a lot about pizzas! Write down what they say.

4) Plan! Once you have done your research, you should have a few pages of notes. Read the notes and work out roughly plan the text. If you have several facts, choose a sensible order for the facts.

5) Clarity! The best writing is clear writing. There are tricks to writing clearly. One is to write in short sentences. Another is always to use simple language. Even if the ideas are complicated, keep the language simple.
6) Repetition. Avoid repeating the same words again and again, since this will make your text boring to read.

7) Don’t make assumptions. In other words, don't assume that your readers will know as much as you. If you refer to something that happened in the past, be sure to explain exactly what did happen the past so the reader isn’t left confused.

8) Do not use technical terms that only a specialist will understand. Make sure that every word you use would be understandable to a classmate who doesn’t share the same interests as you.

9) Don’t use cliche. A cliche is a phrase that is over-used, like “cool as a cucumber”, or “110 per cent”. Cliches make the text feel predictable and boring.

10) Have a conclusion. It is always nice to end a piece of text with either a summary of what has come before, or a final thought.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Book Review: 'Urban Jungle' by Vicky Woodgate

Publishers Big Picture Press do not disappoint: they produce very big books full of wonderful pictures and this one by Vicky Woodgate is no exception. 'Urban Jungle' is an oversized non-fiction book which explores the fauna of the world's major cities.

Did you know that Spinybacked orbweavers can be found in Lima, Peru? Or that Milk sharks patrol the waters around Mumbai? Or that Vancouver is home to Bobcats, Coyotes, seals, bears, skunks, turtles and Rufous hummingbirds? With each turn of a page the reader encounters the surprising inhabitants of some of the world's busiest cities and surrounding urban areas. 

Each page begins with clear geographical summary of each city, a map of where in the country or continent it can be found and a plethora of stylistic animal illustrations. A particularly nice touch is the 'Animal Stories' box that can be found on each page where a particular animal is highlighted, sometimes with a funny story that made the news and often with tales of historical significance or surprising facts about the creatures.   

The book is split into sections based on continent and each part opens with a double page map - the book doesn't skimp the geography side of things. Urban Jungle definitely isn't just a book about animals; it's a brand new beast combining an Atlas with a natural history book, although it perhaps couldn't be used as either - it must be treated as something different.

With publishers pushing he boundaries of what non-fiction books look like this is an exciting time to be a child who loves to gather facts. With maps and animals being popular obsessions for primary aged children this book is sure to be a hit both at home and in the classroom and will hold up to repeat reads such is the wealth of information contained.