November 18, 2017

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Hi-Tech Action: Engineering, Machines, & Technology | Series Made Simple Spring 2013

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 With a few notable exceptions, the entriesin this mixed bag of high-tech offerings are aimed at casual readers enthralled by images of big, noisy machines–preferably the sort that carry guns and bombs. Even the most unvarnished browsing items feature indexes and resource lists, though both are likely to be ignored by most of their target audiences. In deference to the Common Core State Standards, features such as glossaries, fact boxes, and ideas for demonstrations or projects are clearly on the way to becoming equally universal.

Preschool-Grade 4

BETHEA , Nikole Brooks. Engineering an Awesome Recycling Center with Max Axiom, Super Scientist. illus. by Pop Art Studios. ISBN 978-1-4296-9934-1; ISBN 978-1-62065-699-0. LC 2012026438.
BISKUP , Agnieszka. The Amazing Work of Scientists with Max Axiom, Super Scientist. illus. by Marcelo Baez. ISBN 978-1-4296-9936-5; ISBN 978-1-62065-701-0. LC 2012028442.
––––. The Incredible Work of Engineers with Max Axiom, Super Scientist. illus. by Marcelo Baez. ISBN 978-1-4296-9937-2; ISBN 978-1-62065-705-8. LC 2012026439.
ENZ , Tammy. Engineering a Totally Rad Skateboard with Max Axiom, Super Scientist. illus. by Pop Art Studios. ISBN 978-1-4296-9935-8; ISBN 978-1-62065-703-4. LC 2012026437.
ea vol: 32p. (Graphic Library: Graphic Science and Engineering in Action Series). further reading. glossary. index. websites. Capstone. 2013. PLB $29.99; pap. $7.95.
Gr 2-4–Max Axiom, the supercharged scientist of series past, moves from the natural world into the realm of high-tech (mostly) in this graphic novel-style STEM-focused subset. In Scientists and in Engineers he puts together teams for, respectively, a science fair and a lunar colony by zipping from the International Space Station to the ocean’s bottom for quick interviews with a range of STEM specialists. The other two volumes are more process oriented, following each stage in the design and construction of a super skateboard and a large recycling facility. Sidebars clarify and expand upon information presented in the narratives. Enhanced by their visual format, resource lists, and closing spreads containing historical background notes and additional information, these volumes offer stimulating glances at their topics.

BOOTHROYD , Jennifer. How Do Helicopters Work? ISBN 978-0-7613-8966-8; ISBN 978-1-4677-1006-0. LC 2012019112.
––––. How Do Parachutes Work. ISBN 978-0-7613-8968-2; ISBN 978-1-4677-1009-1. LC 2012020003.
SILVERMAN , Buffy. How Do Hang Gliders Work? ISBN 978-0-7613-8970-5; ISBN 978-1-4677-1005-3. LC 2012020001.
––––. How Do Hot Air Balloons Work? ISBN 978-0-7613-8969-9; ISBN 978-1-4677-1007-7. LC 2012010394.
––––. How Do Jets Work? ISBN 978-0-7613-8967-5; ISBN 9781-4677-1008-4. LC 2012013839.
––––. How Do Space Vehicles Work? ISBN 978-0-7613-8971-2; ISBN 978-1-4677-1010-7. LC 2012019111.
ea vol: 32p. (Lightning Bolt Books: How Flight Works Series). diags. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Lerner. 2013. PLB $25.26; ebook $18.95.
K-Gr 2–Though narrow of topic, these introductions combine plenty of big, bright color photos with explanatory texts that, for all their brevity, will give new readers healthy doses of specific information. Hang Gliders, for instance, offers not only a tally of the required gear but also covers techniques for steering, changing speeds, and landing safely. Both the narratives and images feature men and women in roughly equal numbers–and, even more laudably, Space Vehicles highlights a Russian Soyuz and its launch vehicle rather than now-obsolete American spacecraft, though the Hubble Space Telescope does make a cameo. Each volume ends with a labeled diagram, a page of “Fun Facts,” and a list of print and Web resources.

COLSON , Rob. Helicopters. ISBN 978-1-4777-0065-5; ISBN 978-1-4777-0164-5. LC 2012020309.
––––. Motorbikes. ISBN 978-1-4777-0066-2; ISBN 978-1-4777-0165-2. LC 2012021179.
––––. Tanks and Military Vehicles. ISBN 978-1-4777-0067-9; ISBN 978-1-4777-0166-9. LC 2012021180.
––––. Trucks. ISBN 978-1-4777-0068-6; ISBN 978-1-4777-0167-6. LC 2012021663 .
––––. Warships. reprods. ISBN 978-1-4777-0064-8; ISBN 978-1-4777-0163-8. LC 2012021664.
ea vol: 24p. (Ultimate Machines Series). chart. glossary. index. photos. websites. Rosen/PowerKids Pr. 2013. PLB $22.60; ebook $22.60.
Gr 3-5–Standard fodder for casual browsers and enthusiasts, these surveys offer a mix of color photos and bite-sized comments or technical specs in a variety of type sizes. Each volume highlights seven specific models of the featured vehicle of the past or present (for example, Warships contains spreads on ironclads, aircraft carriers, and submarines, among others) and contains quick glimpses at specialized variations or machines with related functions or characteristics. Every title closes with a table of recapped data and a Web link that leads to a dedicated page of online resources on the publisher’s website. High on interest level, low on new content or approach.

FOREST , Christopher. Robot Competitions. ISBN 978-1-4296-9920-4; ISBN 978-1-62065-782-9. LC 2012026442.
MOSS , Jenny. How Robots Work. ISBN 978-1-4296-9919-8; ISBN 978-1-62065-780-5. LC 2012026441.
O’HEARN , Michael. Awesome Space Robots. illus. ISBN 978-1-4296-9918-1; ISBN 978-1-62065-778-2. LC 2012033234.
PRICE , Sean Stewart. Amazing Military Robots. ISBN 978-1-4296-9917-4; ISBN 978-1-62065-776-8. LC 2012033233.
ea vol: 32p. (Edge Books: Robots Series). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2013. PLB $27.32; pap. $7.95.
Gr 3-4–Focusing on high-interest topics, these cleanly laid out volumes will fill readers in on the past and present basics of robot design, structure, and function. Competitions covers the range of formal contests, from mock rescues to wild and destructive BattleBots frenzies. With a mention of the Curiosity rover’s Mars landing, Space Robots updates the information found in Christopher Forest’s otherwise similar Robots in Space (Capstone, 2012), and Amazing Military Robots is a cut above Barbara Alpert’s Military Robots (Capstone, 2012) in coverage and reading level. Sidebars with interesting facts (e.g., “Some self-guided robots guard national borders, military bases, and nuclear waste sites”) and the clear, color photos of the machines in action may attract browsers and/or robotics enthusiasts.

HARASYMIW , Mark. Military Helicopters. ISBN 978-1-4339-8467-9; ISBN 978-1-4339-8470-9. LC 2012028334.
NAGELHOUT , Ryan. Drones. ISBN 978-1-4339-8457-0; ISBN 978-1-4339-8460-0. LC 2012020378.
NELSON , Drew. Armored Vehicles. ISBN 978-1-4339-8452-5; ISBN 978-1-4339-8455-6. LC 2012021809.
––––. Submarines and Submersibles. ISBN 978-1-4339-8477-8; ISBN 978-1-4339-8480-8. LC 2012023051.
PORTMAN , Michael. Fighter Jets. ISBN 978-1-4339-8462-4; ISBN 978-1-4339-8465-5. LC 2012024375.
SHEA , Therese. Spy Planes. ISBN 978-1-4339-8472-3; ISBN 978-1-4339-8475-4. LC 2012031289.
ea vol: 32p. (Military Machines Series). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Gareth Stevens. 2013. PLB $26.60; ebook $26.60.
Gr 3-5–These volumes offer glimpses of the past, present, and future of various types of military vehicles. Some are written as general overviews; others focus on particular experimental or production models as examples. Though the connected narratives create more context for their chosen subjects than corresponding volumes in other, more browser-oriented series, the generalities here are not leavened with enough specific facts and statistics to keep confirmed fans interested. Overall, the reproductions and color and archival black-and-white photos are bland and not sharply reproduced.

PARRISH , Margaret. Boats. ISBN 978-1-84898-618-3. LC 2012006074.
––––. Fast Cars. ISBN 978-1-84898-622-0. LC 2012006077.
––––. Planes. ISBN 978-1-84898-619-0. LC 2012006076.
––––. Rescue Vehicles. ISBN 978-1-84898-620-6. LC 2012006077.
––––. Superbikes. ISBN 978-1-84898-621-3. LC 2012006077.
––––. Trucks and Diggers. ISBN 978-1-84898-623-7. LC 2012006080.
ea vol: 32p. (Wild Rides Series). glossary. index. photos. New Forest. 2013. PLB $28.50.
Gr 2-5–In each of these unabashed browsing items (they don’t contain introductions or conclusions and the text is spare), a spread is devoted to one of 13 high-interest vehicles. For example, Vehicles has sections on the Bronto Skylift fire truck, R44 Helicopter, and Marine Protector Class Coast Guard patrol boat, among other machines. On each spread, a large photo of the melodramatically posed machine is flanked by smaller pictures and text boxes with “Stats & Facts” or “Did You Know?” tidbits of information. Though some entries aren’t all that “wild” (a John Deere combine harvester in Trucks, for instance, and a Chinese junk in Boats), they’re all eye candy, making this set equally enticing for new or reluctant readers.

Grades 5 & Up

ADAMSON , Thomas K. The Technology of Baseball. ISBN 978-1-4296-9955-6; ISBN 978-1-62065-906-9. LC 2012033622.
FREDERICK , Shane. The Technology of Football. ISBN 978-1-4296-9953-2; ISBN 978-1-62065-910-6. LC 2012033612.
––––. The Technology of Hockey. ISBN 978-1-4296-9954-9; ISBN 978-1-62065-912-0. LC 2012033674.
SLADE , Suzanne. The Technology of Basketball. ISBN 978-1-4296-9956-3; ISBN 978-1-62065-908-3. LC 2012033675.
ea vol: 48p. (Sports Illustrated Kids: High-Tech Sports Series). diags. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Capstone. 2013. PLB $31.32; pap. $8.95.
Gr 4-6–These studies of technology’s role in measuring (mostly) professional sports performance; in improving athletic gear, officiating, and safety; and in enhancing fan experience maintain a fine balance between general statements and specific details. For example, Football covers the “Evolution of the Football Helmet,” turf, and “Green” stadiums as well as player training and safety, among other pertinent topics. The volumes are well designed to inform and entertain jocks and technology geeks alike. In each title, the busy designs are stocked with text boxes set against colorful backgrounds, color photos of action on the fields and ice as well as behind the scenes (many featuring currently active players), and views of gadgetry that make the games possible–from scoreboards to cell phones.

GRAHAM , Ian. Cars. ISBN 978-1-4329-7030-7; ISBN 978-1-4329-7035-2. LC 2012013486.
OXLADE , Chris. Gadgets and Games. ISBN 978-1-4329-7031-4; ISBN 978-1-4329-7036-9. LC 2012013468.
SPILSBURY , Richard. Hi-Tech Clothes. maps. ISBN 978-1-4329-7032-1; ISBN 978-1-4329-7037-6. LC 2012013469.
WOOLF , Alex. Buildings. ISBN 978-1-4329-7029-1; ISBN 978-1-4329-7034-5. LC 2012013465.
ea vol: 56p. (Design and Engineering for STEM Series). chron. diags. further reading. glossary. illus. index. photos. websites. Heinemann. 2013. PLB $33.50; pap. $9.49.
Gr 5-7–With a focus on STEM, these volumes survey their subject areas in dry but carefully structured ways, following common industrial products from initial designs to eventual disposals. For example, Clothes explains how garments develop from designs to become goods that are ultimately recycled, reused, or thrown away. Each generalized stage and concept is explained, summed up, recapped, and supplemented with diagrams, color photos, statistics, case studies, and historical notes–plus, both research topics and resource lists in the back matter. Approached cold, the staid prose and visuals are unlikely to kindle readers’ interest, but where an enthusiasm for clothes, gadgets, architecture, and cars already exists, there is plenty here to broaden and deepen it.

SAMUELS , Charlie. Machines and Weaponry of the Cold War. ISBN 978-1-4339-8591-1; ISBN 978-1-4339-8594-2. LC 2012037841.
––––. Machines and Weaponry of the Gulf War. ISBN 978-1-4339-8595-9; ISBN 978-1-4339-8598-0. LC 2012024373.
––––. Machines and Weaponry of the Vietnam War. ISBN 978-1-4339-8599-7; ISBN 978-1-4339-8602-4. LC 2012034541.
––––. Machines and Weaponry of World War I. ISBN 978-1-4339-8603-1; ISBN 978-1-4339-8606-2. LC 2012021899.
––––. Machines and Weaponry of World War II. ISBN 978-1-4339-8607-9; ISBN 978-1-4339-8610-9. LC 2012018392.
ea vol: 48p. (Machines That Won the War Series). further reading. glossary. index. photos. reprods. websites. Gareth Stevens. 2013. PLB $31.95; ebook $31.95.
Gr 4-6–Though one sided in focusing chiefly on the weaponry of the United States and its allies (and disingenuous in the inclusion of Vietnam War under this series title), these galleries offer a varied, browser-tempting smorgasbord of wheeled, floating, and flying vehicles, as well as hand and even chemical weapons. Each of the 20 alphabetically arranged entries includes one-to-three captioned photos or reproductions, most of which show the selected weapon in action, along with an “Eyewitness” comment from an actual user or a sidebar, and brief remarks about the weapon’s development, history, strengths, and (rare in galleries of military gear aimed at younger audiences) weaknesses. Better for browsers, but the print and web resources will be helpful to readers with a sustained interest.


Capstone’s “Graphic Library: Graphic Science and Engineering in Action” is distinguished both by its presentation and its depictions of how research is actually conducted. Even very young, unpracticed, or emergent readers will come away from Lerner’s “Lightning Bolt Books: How Flight Works” with a clear understanding of how flying machines stay in the air. Some of the titles in Capstone’s “Edge Books: Robots” take on subjects that are not well covered elsewhere, and even (or particularly) college-bound science lovers will be pleased by the level of detail in Heinemann’s “Design and Engineering for STEM.”

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