Books of the Month: Lockdown Special

Hello, everyone. How are you? How are you coping with your stay-at-home life? Sadly, many countries are still under lockdown (it’s been extended for another three weeks in UK). It’s been tough on both kids and grownups, so I thought I’d share extra Book of the Month post this month, with focus on what’s called “reference books” that could be useful for homeschooling as well as entertaining your kids and yourself.

First, I must confess that generally I’m not so into reference / non-fiction books. I’m more of a fiction reader. I used to find reference books rather boring without narrative UNTIL I came across these books. These books changed my view on reference books. So let’s lessens begin!

ART

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Of course, I will start with my favourite subject – art. My pick is Colour by Marion Deuchars (Penguin Books 2017). If you love colour like me, you would love this book. Every page is a visual treat and the book is a feast of stimulating and fun watercolour images, facts and quotes all about colour. This book is for older kids and for anyone to understand the historical and cultural interpretations of colour.

If you are after something more practical for younger kids, Deuchars has created a range of fantastic art activity books such as Let’s Make Some Great Art (Lawrence King Publishing 2012) and Let’s Make Some Great Fingerprints Art (Laurence King Publishing 2012).

LANGUAGE

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There are countless ABC books out there but this is my favourite – Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins 2014). The book is made of twenty-six short stories – one story for each of the letters. The stories are funny and often wickedly dark that remind me of Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies. I guarantee that both kids and grownups will be entertained while learning ABC.

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And this one is more for grownups – Alpha by Isabelle Arsenault (Walker Books 2015). This ABC book is based on the famous NATO phonetic alphabet (A for Alpha, B for Beta, C for Charlie etc). Presented in the seemingly simply format are Arsenault’s enchanting artwork and her enigmatic interpretation of these words. Like Edward Hopper’s paintings, these images draw you in with inexplicable fascination. This book was my first encounter with Arsenault and I fell in love with her works because of this book. Highly recommended.

GEOGRAPHY

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When you can’t go out and explore the world, bring the world to you. Maps by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski (Big Picture Press 2013) is an illustrated atlas. It’s PACKED with illustrations of places of interest, famous people, native animals and plants, local food (very important), cultural events, and many more fascinating facts associated with each region. Every time I open the book, I discover something interesting. My geography is terrible but this book helped me to learn lots of interesting things about many countries. Did you know China has meat dumplings called Momo (just like my name)?

HISTORY

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I like the concept of 750 Years in Paris by Vincent Mahé (Nobrow 2015). This wordless book tell the 750 year history of France simply through changes of a single building in Paris, beginning in the 13th Century and making its way towards today. For sure the building has gone through a lot! And the illustrations with limited colour palette are really cool.

SCIENCE

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Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins 2017) isn’t strictly a reference book, but it’s about the universe, Planet Earth, us and it explains how we are all connected. The book is a snapshot of our world that makes a lovely introduction to science.

NATURAL HISTORY / SCIENCE

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Let’s finish with today’s lessons with another favourite subject of mine – natural history / science (sorry, guys, no arithmetic today). If you find nature fascinating and love learning about different species, then you will love this book. Animalium by Jenny Broom and illustrated by Katie Scott (Big Picture Press 2017) is presented as a “virtual museum” “curated” by Broom and Scott. In this virtual museum, you will see 160 animal specimens (out of about 2 million species know to us). It starts with the very beginning of the tree of life (simple sponge), then each chapter (“Gallery”) features a different branch of the tree in the evolutionary order so you can see how we are connected. And Katie Scott‘s illustrations are simply amazing. They look seemingly scientifically accurate (Scott admits she takes artistic licence) but also really beautiful. If you have visited Animalium, you can visit Botanicum (plants and flowers) and Dinosaurium (dinosaurs).

To all those who under lockdown, hanging there and stay safe. #isolatedbutnotalone

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