Monsters and fantastic facts

2nd January 2004 at 00:00
Many nature and wildlife books have titles that allude to weird, wonderful or amazing content, only for them to disappoint with rather ordinary text and images. However, the Amazing Nature series by Tim Knight (Heinemann, pound;10.99 per title) does deliver on its title promise.

Stunningly photographed, the eight books in the series present key aspects of life-cycles, food chains and how plants and animals thrive and survive.

The accompanying text is straightforward in its explanation of concepts and rich in its use of supporting examples, making it a readily accessible source of information for most key stage 2 young scientists.

The series includes: Dramatic Displays, Magnificent Movers, Fantastic Feeders, Marvellous Migrators, Ferocious Fighters, Powerful Fighters, Incredible Life Cycles and Super Survivors.

The Oxford University Press Primary Science Dictionary (pound;6.99) is an excellent source of classroom reference across the whole of KS2. All entries are clearly illustrated, concisely explained and cross-referenced with associated entries.

The 600-plus words included more than cover the key stage 2 curriculum and allow the more able to extend their knowledge. It is particularly pleasing that this compilation has not shied away from reproductive and bodily function terms. These are dealt with in the same concise and clear tone as the rest of the dictionary and with a certain degree of humour in their illustration.

Although aimed at the whole KS2 age-range, it may require a degree of support andor discretion with younger children.

Using a clear and engaging narrative format with well-conceived and lavishly produced illustrations, the Science Works series (by Jacqui Bailey and Matthew Lilly; Aamp;C Black) interweaves science knowledge into a story with humour and interest, which engages the reader without overtly being a science book.

The series includes water, day and night, electricity and fossils. Each title presents an opportunity for readers to extend their interest with follow-up practical activities and lists some excellent websites for further reference.

The Science Works series currently consists of A Drop in the Ocean: The Story of Water; Charging About: The Story of Electricity; Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night, and Monster Stones: The Story of a Dinosaur Fossil. All the books cost pound;9.99 each.

It often seems that the teaching of life cycles in the primary classroom raises infinite questions from inquisitive children as to how, when, where, and indeed, why animals and insects reproduce. To this end, the From Egg to Adult life-cycles series (Heinemann) is especially well conceived and welcome.

Each title in the series (which covers amphibians, birds, fish, insects, mammals and reptiles; available as a set for pound;62.64) either allows the reader to engage with the book as a whole, or to use it as a source of reference, via the excellent contents, index and fact file sections.

Each book is sectioned to answer a pertinent question and achieves this with well-presented photographs, text, illustrations and diagrams that allow most key stage 2 readers to access the information independently.

Andrew Peck is key stage 2 and science co-ordinator at George Spicer primary school, Enfield

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