Summer reading: Books for Children: Non-Fiction

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The Independent Culture
Nature Detective: Plants by Anita Ganeri & Adrian Lascom, Franklin Watts pounds 7.99. Introduction to botany which blends basic facts - how plants grow, what flowers are for - with well-I-never snippets: the flower that imprisons midges to make them unload their pollen cargo; the plant that grows five kilos of roots per day. Superb pictures, lots of things to make - bark rubbings, mushroom spore prints, bottle gardens.

Nature File: Fascinating Animal Facts by Peter Hayward, Puffin pounds 2.50. How much blood does a vampire bat drink? How many worms does a mole eat daily? Look no further for the answers to such burning questions, plus cartoons and quizzes .

Timelines Inventions by Peter Turvey & David Salariya, Franklin Watts pounds 7.99. A history of ingenious ideas, from stone-age fish hooks to test-tube babies. Jolly, intricate drawings, simple text, packed pages, good sections on steam power and electricity.

DNA is Here to Stay by Dr

Fran Balkwill & Mic Rolf, Harper-

Collins pounds 3.99. You're never too young to find out what you're made of. Mind-boggling science made accessible and fun in this colourful prizewinning paperback from which we can all discover the secrets of the double helix.

Be Your Own Recycling Expert by Sue Duckworth, Simon & Schuster pounds 7.99. Yet another addition to the eco-oeuvre of children's books, but this one is refreshingly free of piety. Instead, masses of Blue Peter-type things to do with your old rubbish (and sticky-back plastic): clothes from waste paper, guitars from drinks bottles, jumping frogs from foil food trays.

No Smoking by Toni Goffe, Child's Play pounds 1.95. The pictures are merry and witty, the text tough, swiping at advertisers and governments as well as hapless puffers. This is no-holds-barred propaganda, advocating a total ban on tobacco, though side-stepping the issue of exactly how many years recidivist smokers should serve.

Our Food: Moonlight First Encyclopaedia Vol 4, pounds 9.99. Townie children are supposed to believe that milk grows in bottles. Disabuse them with this well-produced illustrated survey of what the world puts in its mouth, from rice and salt to chocolate and honey. Plus a section of things to do and make, and a glossary (A is for abattoir).

Pirates: Fact and Fiction by

David Cordingly & John Falconer, Collins & Brown pounds 9.99. Lavish catalogue of the National Maritime Museum exhibition, crammed with real-life buccaneers and Captains Hook and Pugwash.