I was super-thrilled to return home from work on my last day before Christmas leave and find a second package of books waiting for me courtesy of the new children’s publisher NoodleJuice Books. The two books within fully captured my attention, and I think that they will make excellent additions to primary school libraries or classroom collections or home book collections when they are published in January.
From the ‘little book Big Idea’ series, What is Money? will provide answers to the most inquisitive child who wants to explore this topic. The format of the two books that I have now had the pleasure to read from this series, makes the information easily accessible for children of 6 years and above. Each double page spread poses a question, exactly the sort of query asked by curious children when perhaps they’ve heard something on the news or overheard an adult conversation and want to know: what are taxes? how does money grow? or is money good? The explanations begin with a very short paragraph written in plain English which is then enhanced by small blocks of text accompanied by eye-catching illustrations. The range of questions on the subject of money is comprehensive, ranging from the purely factual to the more philosophical aspects of the good and bad outcomes that individuals can create depending on the way that they choose to use their money.
This combination of Sarah Walden’s age appropriate, clear explanations and the engaging artwork of Katie Rewse allow children the time and space to explore the topic of money and allow them to take the first steps in understanding this complex and essential factor of human society. I am so impressed at the ambition of this book and can see it being enjoyed by certain children in Key Stage 1 and used extensively in PHSE and citizenship lessons and discussions in Key Stage 2 of primary schools. It will certainly be a valuable addition to any school or home collection.
All the World’s a Stage: A Celebration of the Value of Creativity is a glorious, practical guide to performance and fills a big gap in children’s library bookshelves. When I was a primary school librarian and was trying to build a non-fiction collection which catered to the interests of all the children in school, I longed to find a book such as this which would appeal to the talented and creative individuals who loved performing at talent shows or in assemblies, or attended dance classes or music classes or showed flair for art or creative writing. Despite having a scientific background myself, I have been appalled at the low value which seems to have been placed on arts education in recent times. I believe that the UK has fostered creativity in all the arts for many years which in turn has made huge contributions to the prosperity and culture of our nation. This book does a wonderful job of encouraging children to see the value in creativity; presenting information on all forms of performance, from open mic nights to opera. There are timelines of famous musicals; facts about different stage types and famous theatres; and comprehensive details about the film and television industries.
I was particularly impressed by a section towards the end which zooms in on the many different career options available in both film and TV. Starting with a spread entitled: It’s not all greasepaint and applause there then follow pages which detail career options, explaining what the role involves and outlining the skills required for success in the role. This content is presented in coloured blocks with distinctive illustrations, very attractively and clearly laid out in a way which is guaranteed to engage readers of all ages. Readers can learn about a broad range of roles including: being a director, a writer, a set designer or location scout, a special effects technician or a costume designer amongst others. The book ends with straightforward, practical advice on how to make your own film and suggestions of websites for further reading.
I not only applaud Sarah Walden’s ambition in writing this book which is beautifully illustrated by Hannah Li, I give it a standing ovation! I would suggest that it is an essential addition to primary school libraries, Year 6 classroom libraries and Key Stage 3 libraries and drama departments in secondary schools. It would also make a beautiful gift if you happen to know a child who enjoys any kind of performance or creativity.
Both What is Money? and All the World’s a Stage: A Celebration of the Value of Creativity will be published by Noodle Juice Books on 12th January 2023 and I am most grateful to the publishers for my review copies in exchange for an honest review.