What you need is A BOOK TO HAND
We’ve chosen some recently published titles which could be immediately useful and will earn their keep long-term on the library shelf.
If you are intending to take an interest in meadows, trees and hedges this summer (or even if you weren’t but could be tempted) take a look at
Eric Thomas and John T White, Dorling Kindersley, 0 86318 009 4, £4.95
The pictures ravish the eye. The hedge in summer is a stunning foldout four page spread, a tangle of flowers, birds and insects. And the other seasons get similar treatment. But this is not just a pretty book. Each picture carries a key to species identification and the text is very informative, tracing the development of the hedge from Saxon times. evoking each period through the people who lived and worked on and around it. Here is history – social, economic, and natural – folklore, and ecology, alive and for the taking. That is provided someone hasn’t grubbed up your nearest hedges in the name of agricultural efficiency or sprayed them out of existence – the book covers that stage too.
The Meadow Year
Irmgard Lucht, A and C Black, 0 7316 2305 5, £3.95
‘Lie on your stomach at the edge of a meadow in summer’ is the opening sentence of another beautifully illustrated book. By the time you’ve spent some time with it you’ll probably want to do just that, and you’ll certainly be well equipped to cope with what you find. Useful for beginners in that, for instance, in six pages you will find clearly illustrated every flower, grass, insect or small animal you are likely to find in a meadow in May, June and July. The text. translated from the German, is relatively simple and friendly in tone. Junior+.
Oak and Company
Richard Mabey, ill. Clare Roberts, Kestrel. 0 7226 5102 3, £4.50
Two hundred and eighty-three years in the life of an oak tree. An excellent text but the pictures, though beautiful. are not always as helpful or informative as they might be. Lots of close-up detail – great on leaves and bark and textures – and general views: but I longed to see ‘our’ oak clearly identifiable in its surroundings, and perhaps with some clues to help me get to grips with time passing. Could be a good starting point for lots of enquiry and imagination especially if you can provide additional pictures or adapt the text to suit your own oak!
The Easy Way to Tree Recognition
John Kilbracken, Kingfisher, 0 86272 040 0, £3.50
An excellent companion to The Easy Way to Bird Recognition which won the TES Senior Information Book Award. It follows the same format: asking key questions the answers to which lead you by a logical process of elimination to the information you want. It’s a beautifully simple idea and it works. According to most identification guides I have tried I keep finding rare unrecorded plants! Knowing that can’t be the case leaves me feeling inadequate and frustrated. Lord Kilbracken treats me kindly and leads me by the hand.
`Is the bark very soft and spongey? Answer `Yes’ if the bark, which is reddish brown, is so soft that you can punch it quite hard with your clenched fist and it doesn’t hurt. Otherwise answer ‘No’.’ If you see lots of people punching trees this summer you’ll know which book they have got hold of.
If you are bound for the London museums and haven’t yet discovered the Scala/Philip Wilson series of books about the great museums don’t delay any longer
The British Museum – Natural History
Peter Whitehead and Colin Keates, Scala/ Philip Wilson. 0 85667 108 8 (paperback), £4.95
Not a catalogue, (although many of the exhibits are referred to and illustrated) a marvellously interesting account of the museum, its background, history, development and work. Invaluable for any teacher planning how to get the most out of a class visit. Lots of colour photographs.
Also available, books on the National Maritime Museum (85667 130 4, £4.95) and the National Gallery (0 85667 156 8, £4.95).
The famous display of dinosaurs is first stop for most visitors to the Natural History Museum. Older children who get hooked on the subject will be glad to have on hand
Collins Guide to Dinosaurs
Compiled by David Lambert (aided by a host of international consultants and advisers). Collins, 0 00 195387 7, £6.95
A comprehensive and well laid out volume which must contain ‘all you want to know about dinosaurs. Lots of maps, drawings, diagrams: good index and bibliography.
A visit to the Science Museum might well create a need for
Lasers and Holograms
John Griffiths. Macmillan, 0 333 3251 1 7, £3.95
One of the Exploration and Discovery series intended to introduce young seekers after information to recent developments in different scientific areas. Good photographs and diagrams help to illustrate and explain some fairly complex ideas and processes. Answers to ‘What is a laser?’ and explanations of How a laser works’ may be a bit daunting without help, but sections on uses and applications (the majority of the book) are clear and accessible. The author is curator at the Science Museum in London.