The amazing human body, successful failures and a daring donkey - book reviews

The Human Body: A Pop-Up Guide to Anatomy by Richard Walker and Rachel Caldwell
The Human Body: A Pop-Up Guide to Anatomy by Richard Walker and Rachel Caldwell

Take a close-up, pop-up look at the workings of the human body, meet people who turned their failures into glorious triumphs, and share adventures with a donkey who longs to be an astronaut.

Age 9 plus:

The Human Body: A Pop-Up Guide to Anatomy by Richard Walker and Rachel Caldwell

The human body is often described as a miracle of nature… and now you can see the mysteries of its inner workings literally spring to life in this remarkable, interactive pop-up guide to anatomy.

The human body is complex, amazing, gruesome, but mostly extraordinary. It moves, senses, thinks and grows, whilst also being capable of reproducing, repairing and defending itself.

Although we are familiar with the outside appearance of the body, much of what it does goes on unseen inside us, every second of the day. This fascinating book aims to explain these processes and, in turn, to help youngsters (and their parents!) understand them by looking in detail at the structure and workings of the body from the head downwards.

By combining incredible paper engineering with Victorian-inspired illustrations by debut artist Rachel Caldwell and medical notes written by human body expert Richard Walker, The Human Body provides a compelling and in-depth exploration of how the body works.

It’s 1839 in Victorian Britain and you are a medical student working on your first human body dissection in an operating theatre! Under the watchful eye of Dr Walker, peel back the flaps and remove the organs to reveal the inner workings of the human body layer by layer, from bone and muscle, to the brain, eyes, heart, lungs and everything in between. Your apprenticeship begins here!

Lift the flaps, look inside the intricately detailed pop-ups and then peruse the glossary at the end which lists everything you have seen, from the arteries and capillary blood vessels to nerves, neurons, muscles, the spinal cord and cell tissues.

Caldwell’s scientific artwork is breathtaking while Walker’s medical notes are eminently accessible with plenty of interesting facts and flashes of humour to keep young readers entertained.

The perfect gift for budding scientists and doctors… and all curious kids!

(Templar Publishing, hardback, £19.99)

Age 9 plus:

Fantastic People Who Dared to Fail by Luke Reynolds

Sometimes failure can just be the first step to making big things happen…

Luke Reynolds, a former teacher who is now an assistant professor of education near Boston, Massachusetts, has a lesson for us all in this inspirational book featuring 35 famous people who turned what seemed to be their failures into glorious triumphs.

Discover the failures and mistakes made by some famous faces you might think have always been successes. From twelve publishers turning down J.K. Rowling who has become one of the bestselling authors of all time with her Harry Potter books, to James Dyson who created over five thousand prototypes before getting his innovative vacuum right, and Steven Spielberg who was rejected from film school only to become a world-renowned film director, this collection of ‘blunder wunders’ achieved greatness because of their persistence, drive and passion.

Other well-known names who turned their failures into success stories include Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Christopher Reeve, Nelson Mandela, Vincent Van Gogh and Maya Angelou.

These uplifting real-life accounts prove that even the biggest mistakes, flops and blunders can evolve into something amazing so just think what you can achieve if you never give up and always believe in yourself!

(Simon & Schuster, paperback, £6.99)

Age 8 plus:

White Feather by Catherine and David MacPhail

In the year that marked the centenary of the end of the First World War, Catherine and David MacPhail take young readers on an eye-opening journey into the heart of the conflict.

White Feather is the first collaboration between the mother-and-son duo, both award-winning authors, and this powerful and moving novella explores the tragic consequences of war on both those who fought, and the families and friends left behind.

The book is another thoughtful and beautifully produced book from innovative publisher Barrington Stoke and has been specially created in a super readable format for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers.

The war is won but for teenager Tony there is no joy in the celebratory parades as his soldier brother Charlie never returned from no man’s land, and his mother lost the will to live during the long years of war.

What is worse for Tony is that Charlie did not die as a hero but was executed on the battlefront as a coward. Handed a white feather (a symbol of cowardice) after the victory parade, grief-stricken Tony still refuses to believe that his brother was a traitor and is pushed to the edge in his dark quest to uncover the horrifying truth...

White Feather makes salutary reading for young readers as Tony’s heartbreaking mission unlocks themes of war like the impact of grief, the sacrifices of a whole generation, the effects of shell-shock, and the strong bonds that unite families through the toughest of times.

Gripping and emotional, this is a story that speaks loudly about the futility of war and is an ideal book to read at home or to share at school for class discussions.

(Barrington Stoke, paperback, £6.99)

Age 3 plus:

Toto by Ximo Abadía

Could a donkey ever become an astronaut?

Spanish illustrator and author Ximo Abadía turns on the charm in this colourful and clever picture book which encourages children to follow their dreams however impossible they may seem to be.

Living in a small town, ambitious young donkey Toto dreams of escaping what seems to be the pre-ordained life in front of him. He will never become a porter, ferrying loads up the mountainside day after day… he will become an astronaut instead!

Toto bravely packs his bags, kisses his parents goodbye and sets off for the bright lights of the big city. Even when all his money for astronaut school is stolen by thieves, his hard work and stubborn determination sees him through. And when the small town is woken in the night by a huge roar, everyone is delighted to see that Toto has come back to them on a rocket. His dreams have finally come true!

Abadía’s endearing tale, illustrated with vivid surrealist artwork, is as imaginative as it is bold. The striking palette of vivid primary colours is the perfect complement to this warm and inspirational story.

Clever in its simplicity and eye-catching in its pictorial presentation, this beautiful story proves that reaching for the stars can leave you over the moon!

(Templar Publishing, hardback, £11.99)

Children and adults:

My Hidden Chimp by Professor Steve Peters

Professor Steve Peters, a consultant psychiatrist who specialises in the functioning of the human mind, is on a mission to help people become happier, more confident and healthier… and that includes children.

Prof Peters has a wide experience in the field of education and is CEO of his own charitable company, Chimp Management, which uses a powerful mind management model called the Chimp Model which represents the ‘emotional team within the brain that thinks and acts for us without our permission.’

Already the author of the million copy selling The Chimp Paradox, this powerful and effective new educational book offers ten habits that can help children to understand and manage their emotions and behaviour.

Parents, teachers and carers are provided with ideas and thoughts on how to help children to develop healthy habits for life. The science behind the habits is discussed in a practical way with exercises and activities to help children think the habits through and start putting them into practice.

The neuroscience of the mind is simplified for children as ten simple habits to understand and then use to their advantage as an arsenal to deal with everyday life.

They include the importance of talking through your feelings, learning how to say sorry and knowing how to ask for help. By also explaining the developing ‘chimp’ brain in children, Prof Peters shows us how the habits can be retained for life.

A groundbreaking new book and an important teaching tool to help a new generation lead a better and more productive life.

(Studio Press, paperback, £12.99)

Children and adults:

The Silent Guides by Professor Steve Peters

Also from Professor Peters is The Silent Guides, written as a companion to My Hidden Chimp and an interconnected book that tackles how we can best manage our mind from childhood into adulthood.

This fascinating guide explores some neuroscience and psychological aspects of the developing mind, unconscious thinking, behaviours, habit formation and related topics in an easy-to-understand way.

It then offers practical ideas and thoughts for the reader to reflect on using the ten helpful habits as examples. The book has two themes… to help adults to consider and understand where some of their unhealthy or destructive learnt behaviours and beliefs might have come from, and then offer ways to replace them with healthy and constructive behaviours and beliefs.

Examples of unhelpful thinking, behaviours and habits that can be changed include being overly self-critical, fear of failure and unforgiving perfectionism, worrying excessively or overreacting to situations, procrastinating and living with low self-esteem.

And examples of helpful thinking, behaviours and habits include smiling, getting over mistakes, developing a positive outlook, being able to talk through your feelings, seeking appropriate help, and being proactive.

Must reading for those eager to shape and improve the way they see the world…

(Lagom, paperback, 12.99)