Review: Flying Colours

BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations


Book Title: Flying Colours: A Guide to Flags from Around the World (available here)

Author: Robert G. Fresson

Illustrator: Robin Jacobs

Publisher: Cicada

Publication Date: November 2017

Most Suitable For: KS2

As part of NNFN (National Non-Fiction November - find out more here), we’ve been invited to blog about a beautiful and intriguing non-fiction text from Cicada Publishing. Flying Colours is a celebration of flags from countries around the world, exploring the significance of their colours, patterns, shapes and crests in child-friendly way.


If you already know what a ‘vexillologist’ does then this is probably exactly the kind of book you’d be interested to read. If (like me) you didn’t already know its meaning, you’ll enjoy the sheer volume of new information to learn from this colourful non-fiction volume of flags. Did you know, for example, that the American flag has changed 28 times since it was first designed, or that the stars in the centre of the Brazilian flag depict the view of constellations over Rio de Janeiro on the night the republic was established in 1889? Not every country is represented in the book, but with over 100 pages there is plenty for readers to sink their teeth into.


The book is structured into sections of different country flags, organised not by geographical or alphabetical groups but by pattern or colour types (e.g. crosses and saltires, crescent moons, tribands, pan-African colours etc.). While there is a map section at the back of the book to help readers locate the countries, the emphasis of the book is not a geographical or political one but firmly based on the visual significance of each flag.


The emphasis on the visual helps readers to put aside preconceptions linked to each country’s flag and to really look at the different elements that come together to make the flag. It also helps readers to make links – sometimes surprising ones – between different countries in a way that transcends global politics. More than this, the visual emphasis also gives validation to the way that children very often make sense of the world.

On each page, a band of fun, colourful characters (imagine a cross between a jelly baby and a crusader) deconstruct the flags to demonstrate how each one is put together from simple shapes and patterns. Every page also includes interesting information about the history of the flag, always in small chunks that are designed to be easily digested by young readers.


This retro-coloured non-fiction text is a treasure trove of information for curious minds, with compelling facts and plenty of potential to spark interesting discussions.


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You can order Flying Colours online or from your local bookshop or library.



Many thanks to the publisher for kindly sending me a review copy of this book and the Federation of Children's Book Groups for inviting me to be part of the NNFN blog tour.



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