Stephen Biesty and David Macauley. Biesty has worked as a freelance illustrator since 1985, creating information books for adults and children. He lives in a small Somerset village with his wife and son.
His first major success came in the 1990s with his best-selling 'Incredible Cross-Sections' (published by Dorling Kindersley). This book has sold over 3.5 million copies and has been published in 16 languages. He has won a number of awards for his work including the 'The New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award' in 1993, and 'The UK Literacy Association Children's Book Award' in 2004 and again in 2012 for his latest book 'Into the Unknown'.
Another wonderful exponent of this genre is David Macaulay. His books include 'The Way Things Work', 'Castle' and 'The Way We Work',
are other excellent examples in this genre. He is a British-born
American author and illustrator. Now a resident of Norwich, Vermont,
United States, he was educated at the Rhode Island School of Design.
His numerous awards include the Caldecott Medal, won for his book 'Black and White' in 1991, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for 'The Way Things Work' in 1989, and the MacArthur Fellows Program award in 2006.
Why do children love these books?
Into the Unknown' (2011). The text was written by Stewart Ross and was published by Walker Books.
It is one of my favourite books of this type. The book is a
wonderful collection of stories and cross sections of 14 'Amazing
Journeys'. The journeys include the epic travels of Marco Polo down the
Silk Road to China in 1271-1274, David Livingstone exploring the Zambesi
in 1858-1864, Captain Cook mapping Australia and the Pacific in
1768-1771, Umberto Nobile flying over the North Pole in 1928, Jacques
Piccard's travels to the top of the Stratosphere by balloon in 1932 and
then by submarine to a depth of almost 11,000 metres in the ocean in
1960. It is suited to boys (and some girls) aged 7-14 years.
a child I loved books with cross-sections, maps and detailed diagrams
or drawings - bodies, buildings, vehicles, the Earths' crust, mummies
and so on.
is something about a good cross section or diagram that got my brain
whirring as a child and still does. And the same thing seems to happen
for many boys. Why? I think there are a bunch of reasons:
Cross sections and diagrams offer a better sense of size, quantity and significance - You can read about the famous crossing of the Indian Ocean by Chinese Admiral Zheng He
in 1405-1407, but understanding the shear scale of his 'Treasure Fleet'
becomes a jaw dropper when Biesty's fold out drawing of the largest
fleet ever sailed by a single commander is revealed. Seeing 62
nine-masted treasure ships, 47 eight-masted horse ships, 48 seven-masted
supply ships, 60 five-masted cannon carrying warships, 40 patrol boats
and 20 water tankers helps you to visualize the shear scale and wonder
of this phenomenon.
Cross sections stir the imagination
- They encourage children to come up with their own ideas and
to represent the learning that has been stimulated in new ways. After reading this book with one of my grandchildren aged nine, he raced off to find some
cardboard to make up his own board game of the Hillary & Norgay
ascent of Everest. We then had to play it and 'relive' the journey
through the game. It had many novel elements. For example, if you failed
to land on the spot where you received a critical rope, you were doomed
not to make the descent safely. Spontaneous child-initiated activities
of this type enrich the experience of the book, stimulate the
imagination and reinforce learning.
and the first moon landing. The experience of growing up during the
space race and seeing the Apollo 11 landing live on television, was one of life's
great memories, and it floods back with new richness with Biesty's
that incorporate diagrams, cross-sections and maps have special
interest for boys as readers and learners. They encourage them to read
and use visual material to reinforce and enrich learning as well as
stimulating their imagination and creativity.
Short video introduction to David Macaulay's work and the process he goes through to produce his works.
You might also like to read my previous post 'Making Reading Exciting for Boys'.