Category Archives: Non-fiction for children

Wildlife Compendium of the World – Tania McCartney


Hardie Grant

May 2023


Imprint: Hardie Grant Explore

RRP: $32.99

I can safely say without hesitation that Tania’s gorgeous picture books are only surpassed by her utterly glorious non-fiction books. You may disagree – but you’d be wrong in my opinion! I have always loved informational books – yes, I was the nerdy kid who ate them up whether Readers Digest, Time Life, How and Why Wonder and many more – all were grist to my mill.

So, when I see the truly beautiful but equally fascinating non-fiction that Tania creates, I am in heaven.

The first thing to stun the senses with this new volume, is the utterly elegant and strikingly alluring binding. The copper foiled textured cover is one of the most sublimely pleasing and tactile I have seen in a long time – I spent some time turning it this way and that, admiring it (yes, I did tell you I’m nerdy).

Young readers will be enthralled with the journey Tania takes them on around the world focusing on amazing creatures from each of the earth’s regions whether as small as a yellowjacket wasp or as large as an Asian water buffalo, aquatic or arboreal, cute and cuddly or deadly dangerous.

Each spread is just a pure joy and readers will immerse themselves in the factual snippets about each species. To preface the global tour, Tania outlines animal types, plus scientific classifications, and explains succinctly taxonomic rank plus conservation status. She expertly defines habitats, biomes, ecosystems and environments and further details the types of environments.

After these introductory pages the tour proper begins starting with the Americas, then Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, Antarctica and Oceans. The journey concludes with sections on Endangered Animals, Animal Rights and a very thorough glossary.

There are special touches which makes this a true stand-out (as with all Tania’s books). The endpapers are a rendition of the night sky and the ‘animal’ constellations, which I absolutely love and which, I believe, will encourage young readers to realise that we are one world, and that same sky (although it may look different depending on locations) is above us all. Tania’s dedication is very delightfully a homage to the content of the book, and I loved my personal letter which accompanied my copy.

Of course, it is not just the well-researched and equally well-presented information that makes this a must-have. Tania’s divine illustrations are, as always, a glory unto themselves and children will spend many hours poring over them, I predict.

I cannot even begin to comprehend the labour of love this book represents, nor the hours (weeks, months) it has taken to reach fruition but like all Tania’s work, it is so beautifully executed that it will surely take pride of place on many bookshelves.

If this is not in line for the coming year’s awards line-up, there is something seriously wrong with those who judge such things. I have no doubt that if we took it to the children, they will give it their resounding endorsement.

Likewise, I give this my highest recommendation for your curious young (and not so young) readers who relish a factual volume that is lush in its presentation. Another triumph Tania – you truly are one of the most outstanding book creators we have for our young people.

365 Days of Calm – Becky Goddard-Hill


Harper Collins Australia

April 2023

RRP: $19.99

  • ISBN: 9780008545222
  • ISBN 10: 0008545227
  • Imprint: Collins GB

I probably needed this book – well, the first copy sent to me at least – as the courier delivering it left out on my back verandah, not under cover, while we were away for the weekend – a weekend that ended with one of our biggest summer storms. Needless to say, I couldn’t really ‘read’ the book when I discovered it. But it was definitely worth the wait, I can assure you.

While it’s being marketed as a children’s ‘well being’ book, frankly I see it as being applicable to any one, young or old. I certainly intend to keep it and have it close by – like my bedside table – so that I can remind myself to stay positive, focused and, yes, calm no matter what is happening. Right now, packing up to move house after just a year, I’ve not been feeling very calm but then I remember, that it was my choice to get out of this nasty house, that I have money enough in the bank to achieve it, and that, this year, finding a new rental was a much smoother and happier process.

Before I left my school before last, we were doing a big revamp of our non-fiction and had created a collection which we were calling the ‘warm fuzzy’ books and this would be a perfect fit for those titles. Whether you are in a primary or secondary school, this would be a very appropriate addition to your shelves. If you are neither, it would make a thoughtful gift for either child or adult (remember, Mother’s Day is coming up!).It is super soothing with it’s lovely colour palette and format, plus the combination of quotes, affirmations and activities provides something to appeal to every reader.

I think after the last few years we’ve had (and certainly me!) we can all use a little more positive mindset so why not splurge and buy yourself a copy? Highly recommended for anyone you care about – from around ten years old to 110 :-).

Itch! Everything You Didn’t Want to Know About What Makes You Scratch – Anita Sanchez. Illustrated by Gilbert Ford.


Harper Collins Australia

March 2023

  • ISBN: 9780358732877
  • ISBN 10: 0358732875
  • Imprint: HarperCollins US
  • RRP: $19.99

We all know that kiddos love the gross and the icky. They love to groan over disgusting details and hurl revolting facts around – particularly at the dinner table, so this book is going to go down a treat. It is surprisingly entertaining and engaging for a grown up reader as well I might add!

So the chapters move from learning about skin through the types of ‘itches’ skin might encounter: Lice, Fleas, Plants, Mosquito, Tarantula, Fungus, Bedbugs, and concludes with a general chapter on Itching’s possible good points. Then there is a very neat glossary accompanied by various notes. Throughout the information is presented in very accessible chunks as well as remedies and suggestions for prevention, all accompanied by some wonderfully quirky illustrations.

Arguably the only aspect that might detract (but only a little) is the American-centred information such as on plants but that really is a very small negative.

Overall, I think kiddos – and yes, particularly those reluctant boys around 10/11 -will lap this up. It would be a fun read to dip into as an after-break calm down (well, possibly not so calm with some of the yukky concepts but you get the picture!) It’s always great when a book is both information and fun, and this fits the bill perfectly. And given it’s very reasonable price and stylish format, it makes for a super addition to your collection.

Highly recommended for readers from around Year 4 to Year 7.