Children’s Book of the Month: A Beginner’s Guide to Electricity and Magnetism

Book: A Beginner’s Guide to Electricity and Magnetism by Gill Arbuthnott; illustrated by Marc Mones | Age Category 8-11 years

We are surrounded by electricity every day, but how does it all work? This book provides an excellent introduction to the fascinating world of electricity for children.

Gill Arbuthnott guides us step-by step through the history of electricity, explaining the key role played by magnetism to power the devices we use every day. This information is broken up into different topics, covering everything from how compasses work to why electric eels are electric, and everything in between!

The humorous illustrations by Marc Mones and easy experiments to try for yourself make this book an interactive and entertaining read for children interested in learning more about the world around them.


Q&A with Gill Arbuthnott

What made you want to write about science for kids?

Actually, I’d never thought of science writing until the author Nicola Morgan asked if I was interested in doing it. I’d considered myself to be purely a fiction writer until then. But when I thought about it properly, I absolutely love science and I really enjoy communicating that love when I teach, so it was a logical step to take. I really believe that science is fantastically interesting, and that it’s vital that everyone – not just scientists – understands how it works. We all need to be able to weigh up evidence when we decide what and who to believe.


What kind of research did you do for this book? Did you enjoy it?

I’ve always found physics fascinating, but the maths got away from me once I’d done Higher at school. I still read popular science books though, so I started there and also, of course, used the internet. My most important source of knowledge, however, was my collaborator on this book, physics ninja Nick Armstrong, who explained lots of things to me that I’d never understood before. Some of the clearest explanations (and the best joke) in the book come from him and the book definitely wouldn’t exist without his brain. As far as enjoyment goes – oh, yes. I love researching for any book. At least you get to use the research extensively in non-fiction. You have to do research for fiction too, but then leave 90% of it out. That’s always a struggle.


What kind of books did you enjoy reading as a child?

Everything! I had a six-book-per-week habit, so thank goodness libraries in those days were well stocked. I read my way along the children’s fiction shelves from A to Z, then started on the adult section. Alan Garner was a favourite and I also loved mythology; one of my most treasured books is still Tales of the Greeks and Trojans, which was a birthday present from my older brother. I also used to pinch science fiction from his bookshelves and read it when he was away at university. That introduced me to Isaac Asimov and the peerless Ray Bradbury and started a lifelong interest in science fiction and fantasy.


Do you have any other books in the pipeline at the moment?

There’s always something in the pipeline. At the moment I’ve got a couple of part-written novels on the go, and I should be starting to write another science book very soon, but I never like to say too much about things at this stage in case I jinx them…



We have 5 copies of A Beginner’s Guide to Electricity and Magnetism to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this question:

Which way does a compass point?

Send your answer to Sarah Mallon at The competition closes on Thursday 31 March at 5pm.

Entrants must reside in the UK.

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