Children’s Book Roundup: January 2020

  • By Marlene England
  • January 27, 2020

Big new titles perfect for the littles.

Children’s Book Roundup: January 2020

Three nonfiction books caught our attention this month. Each one appeals to slightly different ages and interests, but they all provide a closer look at our wondrous world.

In Under the Southern Cross (Candlewick), author-illustrator Frané Lessac delivers a stunning picture-book tour of Australia at night, from the Wheel of Brisbane to prawn fishing in Perth, with plenty of stops in between. Lessac makes her home Down Under, and her love for the continent pours forth in colorful art and heartfelt prose. Detailed facts about people, places, and wildlife make this an engaging read for adults and youngsters alike.

Colin Stuart’s The Speed of Starlight: An Exploration of Physics, Sound, Light, and Space (Big Picture Press) is an oversized treasure trove of knowledge for mid-grade explorers. The blend of Stuart’s cleverly written and fascinating facts with bold illustrations by Ximo Abadía is a perfect pairing, and there’s enough information in this 77-page compilation to keep curious kids tuned in and turning pages. Questions like Why is the sky blue? and How loud is loud? lead the way to learning about wavelengths, the logorithmic scale, scientists, inventions, discoveries, and, yes, even aliens. Perfect for snowy at-home days, this book would also be a welcome addition to school media centers and classrooms.

Recommended for ages 11 to 14 is Life: The First Four Billion Years (Candlewick Studio) by science writer and conservation biologist Martin Jenkins and award-winning illustrator Grahame Baker-Smith, both of England. This oversized book appropriately launches with the Big Bang and goes on to describe the universe’s story. Illustrations are beautifully rendered, and the writing is clear and compelling, with plenty of facts at a glance to engage readers who prefer skimming over a deep dive. The two-page glossary and timeline on the final pages are helpful for digesting the broad scope of this impressive book.

Marlene England owns Curious Iguana bookstore and benefit corporation in downtown Frederick, Maryland, with her husband, Tom. The pair also own Frederick’s destination for fun and games, Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts.

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