THE Earth, life and all that, is seen through alien eyes and explored in a hilarious but informative series of books by Thompson Yardley. First titles include Give Me Air, Get Switched On and Mighty Microbes (Cassell, $68 each). Mr Yardley uses colourful cartoon illustrations, lots of jokes and down-to-earth facts to hold the imagination and attention of young school children while introducing heavy concepts such as the composition of air and how the immune system works. In Give Me Air, the friendly aliens study the Earth's unique atmosphere, how it creates various weather patterns and supports life, and how it is threatened by man. Get Switched On introduces the different forms of energy and risks involved in exploiting them. It is packed with practical ways we can save energy, such as rejecting battery-powered toys. (We learn that the energy needed to make a battery is 50 times greater than it can give out). The book rounds off with the Energy Game, a board game children can play to highlight where energy is wasted and can be saved. Mighty Microbes opens up the secret world of microscopic creatures, informing us of the vital role germs have played in the creation of life on Earth and who the goodies and baddies really are. Surprises include the fact that gasses produced by microbes create a cow's moo. Aliens for Lunch, by Jonathan Etra and Stephanie Spinner (Red Fox, $26), is a zany work in which two boys spend their school holidays on a mission to save the Earth from aliens after our puddings. For children just learning to read there is Four on the Shore, by James Marshall (Red Fox, $34), presented in large type with colour illustrations on each page to help comprehension. Spider and his friends try to frighten his younger brother away by telling creepy stories. But they are not that scary so don't worry. Tables are turned when little boy Willie tells his own story about a boy who turns into a vampire. Bad Borris the elephant already has a large following among young children. His fans will not be disappointed with his latest antics in Bad Borris Moves House, by Susie Jenkin-Pearce (Red Fox, $60). Despite no longer being able to squeeze through his bedroom door, the growing elephant is loathe to move. The book is illustrated in Ms Jenkin-Pearce's unmistakable line-and-wash style. Snowy, by Berlie Doherty and illustrated by Keith Bowen (Picture Lions, $51), is a more touching book. Rachel, a lonely girl who lives on a narrowboat, has a special pet in Snowy, the grey horse who pulls the tow rope. Her day comes when her class spend a school outing on the boat. Snowy is lavishly illustrated in pastels which capture the gentle mood of the story. Of all the numerous alphabet books, Sally Ann Lambert's lovingly illustrated I Spy ABC (Macmillan, $68) will rank as one of the cleverest and most engrossing. Children can come back to this book, written in enchanting verse, time and again as on each page they spot yet more new things beginning with the letter. Excellent not only for alphabet learning but for helping a child broaden vocabulary. Mama, Papa and Baby Joe, by Niki Daly (Red Fox, $51), offers a zany tale of toddler-inspired havoc during a shopping trip.