In my quest to find books that avoid the icky-sticky sentimentality rampant in the publishing world for the under 6s I was delighted that my 4 year old received this lovely book recently. Under the Sea by Anna Milbourne and Cathy Shimmen is both visually delightful and textually sensible. It is also non-fiction but even the most dedicated story-head won't notice as there is so much to talk about on each page.
A positive approach for a non-fiction book for the younger age group is the attempt to involved the reader, like a story book might:
"Have you ever looked out to sea and wondered what lies under the waves?"
And just like any good story book would, after taking you on an adventure right to the bottom of the sea with lovely black background pages, and bringing you back up to the sparkling surface, it brings your pre-schooler back to security:
"But sail away far enough across the sea and you'll always come to shore."
There is no reason, of course, why a non-fiction book should be judged by story book type qualities, but the nice bridge in style here is useful if you want to vary your child's literary diet a bit but they expect some narrative tics. If on the other hand you have child stuck on the repetitive non-fiction of near-list type formula tractor or digger or train books then this might also come in handy both for its own sake, and as a non-fiction way into listening to the longer sentences and connected ideas more readily associated (for pre-schoolers at any rate) with a tale.
The endpages also tell me there are 12 more non-fiction titles in this series, focusing on environments but with some historical and weather themes thrown in too. The text is always by Anna Milbourne but the illustrator seems to vary. I quite fancy In the Nest, or In the Castle though On the Seashore would be a good companion for this volume and On the Farm or Under the Ground would appeal to the tractor or train obsessive.
A lovely looking series for which the publishers, Usbourne, should be commended.