Up In The Air: Butterflies, Birds And Everything Up Above by Zoë Armstrong and Sara Ugolotti

The Blurb On The Back:

From treetop creatures to the patterns of stars in the night sky, there’s lots to discover if you just look up …

Keep your eyes and ears open for buzzing insects, swooping bats, and ingenious plants, all with a story behind them.  The sky stretching upwards is full of enchanting colours, hidden wind currents, and the wonders of space.

You can pre-order UP IN THE AIR: BUTTERFLIES, BIRDS, AND EVERYTHING UP ABOVE by Zoë Armstrong and Sara Ugolotti from Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Zoë Armstrong worked as an ice cream seller, journalist and PR person for an animal charity and now writes non-fiction for children.  This very broad brush look at the natural world for children aged 7+ focuses on the skies above us from creatures and insects to trees, clouds and the night sky and is packed with information and beautifully illustrated by Sara Ugolotti (whose drawings complement the photographs used).

The first thing to be said is that this is a very well put together put.  Armstrong tracks through the different topics very neatly so one topic flows on to the next smoothly, e.g. you learn about flying insects and then go onto bees and then caterpillars go onto butterflies and moths.  There’s also a lot of information here and given it’s pitched at children aged 7+, I did query whether some of it was a bit advanced in terms of language, e.g. it talks about enzymes and evaporation and chlorophyll.  Younger or less sophisticated readers may find that challenging but if they are reading it with an adult, then I can see it as a fun opportunity for them to learn.  

The only other point I’d make is that the book is made for a worldwide audience so there are a lot of creatures and plants here from around the world.  That’s absolutely fine – if your child likes David Attenborough programmes then they’ll enjoy learning things like this – but given that part of the idea of the book is that these are things the child can see around them, there may need to be a conversation for UK-based parents that raccoons will not be seen in the local streets, but they may see a fox – so there’s some expectation management that may need to be done.

The illustrations by Sara Ugolotti are really well done and work effectively with the text to illustrate the information being conveyed.  In addition to Ugolotti’s drawings, there are also photographs of certain creatures and things, which helps bring an additional layer to it.

All in all, I thought this was a very well put together, informative book that would be perfect for your children if they’re interested in nature or the natural world but just be aware that some of the information may be a bit advanced in terms of language and younger children may need their expectations managed that this is a global book and not showing them the creatures and plants in their own back yard. 

UP IN THE AIR: BUTTERFLIES, BIRDS, AND EVERYTHING UP ABOVE will be released in the United Kingdom on 3rd June 2021.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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