Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself | Tech & Machines Series Nonfiction

There’s much here to satisfy gearheads, including planes, trains, automobiles, and drones. Children who are interested in the effects of tech on the world around them will enjoy learning about drones, AI, and social media.



Looking to revamp your tech and machine collections but don’t know where to start? These titles can become outdated immediately—anybody still have a book about Vine on their shelves? However, we’ve compiled a list of fascinating and timely series that will allow you to find the right fit for your readers. There’s much here to satisfy gearheads, including planes, trains, automobiles, and drones. Children who are interested in the effects of tech on the world around them will enjoy learning about drones, AI, and social media.



Arnold, Quinn M. Freight Trains. ISBN 9781640262393.
––––. Light Rails. ISBN 9781640262409.
––––. Monorails. ISBN 9781640262416.
––––. Passenger Trains. ISBN 9781640262423.
––––. Subway Trains. ISBN 9781640262430.
––––. Trams. ISBN 9781640262447.
ea vol: 24p. (Seedlings). Creative Education. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.95.
PreS-Gr 1 –Short, simple sentences and vibrant photos keep this series on the track toward success. The large typeface complements the vocabulary selection, which benefits emerging readers and works well for thematic story time. Glossary terms are written in a different color. The important parts of each train are labeled. This series allows children to understand the differences between the various types of trains. The titles don’t break any new ground, but this series will be a welcome addition to every library. VERDICT Recommended for its crowd-pleasing appeal.

Leaf, Christina. Bulldozers. ISBN 9781644873199.
McDonald, Amy. Fire Trucks. ISBN 9781644873205.
––––. Monster Trucks. ISBN 9781644873212.
––––. Tractors. ISBN 9781644873229.
––––. Trains. ISBN 9781644873236.
Zobel, Derek. Airplanes. ISBN 9781644873182.
ea vol: 24p. (Machines with Power!). Bellwether/Blastoff! Beginners. Aug. 2020. Tr. $25.95.
PreS-Gr 2 –Children who can’t get enough of big trucks will enjoy this colorful series. Pages feature a maximum of five lines of text and 10 words. The well-labeled photos provide readers with a thorough understanding of the subject. Each title ends with vehicle facts (with labeled parts), jobs the massive machines can accomplish, and additional information. VERDICT An exciting, engaging series for beginning readers.

Sterling, Charlie W. Where Does Garbage Go? ISBN 9781645275473.
––––. Where Does Mail Go? ISBN 9781645275503.
––––. Where Does Recycling Go? ISBN 9781645275534.
––––. Where Does Water Go? ISBN 9781645275565.
ea vol: 24p. (Where Does It Go?). Jump!/Bullfrog. Aug. 2020. Tr. $25.65.
K-Gr 3 –Simple sentences make this series an excellent choice for young readers. Children who are obsessed with garbage trucks will enjoy Where Does Garbage Go? and Where Does Recycling Go? Both focus on the ecological benefits of recycling and provide tips to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Where Does Mail Go? studies the important service of delivering parcels and letters. Where Does Water Go? is perhaps the most interesting because the process will be unfamiliar to most kids. Vibrant photographs are labeled to help readers connect the new words to real-life concepts. A flowchart at the end of the text illustrates the process described in the previous pages. Picture glossaries identify vocabulary terms. The overviews are simplified, but they are nevertheless informative and important. VERDICT A super series for curious readers.

Storm, Marysa. Dirt Bikes. ISBN 9781623101862.
––––. Formula 1 Cars. ISBN 9781623101879.
––––. Indy Cars. ISBN 9781623101886.
––––. Motorcycles. ISBN 9781623101893.
––––. Stock Cars. ISBN 9781623101909.
––––. Supercars. ISBN 9781623101916.
ea vol: 24p. (Wild Rides). Black Rabbit/Bolt Jr. Aug. 2020. Tr. $29.95.
PreS-Gr 2 –Action-packed photos will entice readers. Each book describes the various styles of superfast vehicles and also highlights safety gear that keeps riders out of harm’s way. Formula One cars and Indy cars, for instance, have harnesses and padded cockpits, but drivers still wear helmets and protective clothing. Fact boxes on each page provide extra information without distracting from the text. Glossary terms are highlighted and defined on the same page. At the back of each book, pictures of the “wild rides” are labeled for easy identification. VERDICT This high-octane series will appeal to reluctant readers. Recommended.



Gitlin, Marty. Aircraft Carriers. ISBN 9781584152385.
––––. Battleships. ISBN 9781584152408.
––––. Drones. ISBN 9781584152903.
––––. Fighter Jets. ISBN 9781584153009.
––––. Helicopters. ISBN 9781584154211.
––––. Light Tactical Vehicles. ISBN 9781584153245.
––––. Submarines. ISBN 9781584157854.
––––. Tanks. ISBN 9781584157304.
ea vol: 24p. (Military Vehicles). Mitchell Lane/Little Mitchie. Aug. 2020. Tr. $27.86.
Gr 2-4 –These informative titles describe the history and development of military vehicles. Aquatic transportation like aircraft carriers and submarines are still used today, but battleships have fallen out of use. Why? These slow-moving targets are easily attacked by fighter jets and drones. Ground vehicles, such as tanks and light tactical vehicles (think Jeeps), are also still used in most offensive strikes. Perhaps the most interesting title is Drones. These aircraft started with unmanned, bomb-dropping balloons. Today, drones are controlled remotely to keep pilots safe but are not without controversy—they’re responsible for many attacks that unintentionally harm innocent civilians. The text is accompanied by illustrations and photographs. VERDICT A worthy, high-interest purchase for most collections, especially Drones.

Peterson, Megan Cooley. Do We Battle Like It’s Medieval Times? ISBN 9781496684738.
––––. Do We Build Like It’s Medieval Times? ISBN 9781496684721.
––––. Do You Live Like It’s Medieval Times? ISBN 9781496684714.
––––. Was Your Stuff Made Like It’s Medieval Times? ISBN 9781496684707.
ea vol: 48p. (Medieval Tech Today). Capstone. Aug. 2020. Tr. $31.99.
Gr 3-5 –For readers who think of the 1990s as the olden days, this informative series will be a fun history lesson. Each book highlights how the featured inventions have developed over time. Armor, bows, battering rams, gunpowder, ships, and chemical warfare can be traced back to the Middle Ages. These objects continue to be relevant to modern warfare. Cranes and wheelbarrows, stained glass windows, and central heating had their beginnings in these days of yore as well. Common items, such as soap, mechanical clocks, pretzels, and eyeglasses were invented during the Middle Ages. A “Timeline of Technology” depicts the history of technological advancements. The easy-to-follow text is supplemented by artwork and photography. ­VERDICT The covers lack appeal, but the content of this series is excellent. Recommended.



Currie-McGhee, Leanne. Security and Surveillance Drones. ISBN 9781682828373.
Ferry, Joe. Delivery Drones. ISBN 9781682828298.
Marcovitz, Hal. Military Drones. ISBN 9781682828335.
Mooney, Carla. Recreational Drones. ISBN 9781682828359.
Steffens, Bradley. Medical Drones. ISBN 9781682828311.
ea vol: 64p. (World of Drones). ReferencePoint. Oct. 2020. Tr. $30.95.
Gr 6 Up –This series examines the history and future of drones. Security and Surveillance Drones explains how drones are used for search and rescue efforts, law enforcement, and border patrol, as well as for journalism. Military Drones reveals the good and the bad—these drones can keep military personnel safe, but they don’t necessarily reduce civilian casualties. Delivery Drones and Medical Drones detail how this innovative technology can be used to deliver goods for consumers and save the lives of medical patients. Every title describes the privacy concerns regarding drones—yes, they’re reshaping the future, but is it really for the better? For report writers, these books provide excellent, well-written, and quotable information. Supplemented by the frequent use of photos, the easy-to-read text is full of facts. VERDICT Though they may become quickly outdated, these titles are thorough, worthwhile additions.

Hamilton, S.L. The World’s Fastest Boats. ISBN 9781532193903.
––––. The World’s Fastest Cars. ISBN 9781532193910.
––––. The World’s Fastest Motorcycles. ISBN 9781532193927.
––––. The World’s Fastest Park Rides. ISBN 9781532193934.
––––. The World’s Fastest Planes. ISBN 9781532193941.
––––. The World’s Fastest Trains. ISBN 9781532193958.
ea vol: 48p. (Xtreme Speed). ABDO/A&D Xtreme. Aug. 2020. Tr. $31.36.
Gr 3-9 –This series will zoom off your shelves. Introductory chapters describe the history and impart safety lessons. The text then spotlights the fastest machines ever created. The World’s Fastest Boats includes information about the Decavitator, a human-powered hydrofoil, and Australian motorboat racing legend Ken Warby. Readers who are interested in automobiles and other motor vehicles will enjoy The World’s Fastest Cars and The World’s Fastest Motorcycles. But if real thrills are what they seek, they’ll want The World’s Fastest Park Rides, which features drops, spins, and coasters from around the world. The text details the engineering of these machines, with breakdowns of aerodynamics. Vibrant photos supplement the text. These titles are sure to garner praise from avid and reluctant readers alike. VERDICT Recommended first purchase for readers who have the need for speed.

Henderson, Robert M. Social Media Shaming and Bullying. ISBN 9781682828571.
Nakaya, Andrea C. Social Media Hate Speech. ISBN 9781682828557.
Steffens, Bradley. Social Media Addiction. ISBN 9781682828519.
––––. Social Media Deception. ISBN 9781682828533.
ea vol: 64p. (The Risks of Social Media). ReferencePoint. Oct. 2020. Tr. $30.95.
Gr 6 Up –This series provides valuable information for report writers. Social Media Shaming and Bullying explains the nuanced consequences of calling people out on social media. While people can agree that cyberbullying is dangerous and unacceptable, naming and shaming people and companies on social media for their problematic behavior can be useful for organizers and social justice advocates. Hate Speech describes the benefits and downsides of social media; it allows like-minded people to find one another, but it also gives hateful individuals a platform to share their toxic opinions. Deception is especially timely in the “post-truth” era, with scams, catfishing, hoaxes, and fake news all put in the spotlight. Some titles feature outdated apps: One case study in Shaming and ­Bullying discusses, but that app no longer exists, having merged into TikTok in 2018. VERDICT This series is bound to be outdated as technology advances, but it is important nonetheless.

Rathburn, Betsy. Artificial Intelligence. ISBN 9781644872840.
––––. Bionic Pets. ISBN 9781644872857.
––––. Drones. ISBN 9781644872864.
––––. Nanotechnology. ISBN 9781644872871.
––––. Self-Driving Cars. ISBN 9781644872888.
––––. Virtual Reality. ISBN 9781644872895.
ea vol: 24p. (Cutting Edge Technology). Bellwether/Epic. Aug. 2020. Tr. $25.95.
Gr 3-7 –Readers who are interested in future tech will enjoy this series. Each book begins with a historical overview of the topic before examining new advances. Artificial Intelligence discusses how AI works, its many benefits, and the potential downsides, such as loss of privacy and low-level jobs. While all the titles in this series are engaging entry points for young readers, Nanotechnology is the most interesting because few books dissect this topic. Nanotech makes materials stronger and more durable, and it could be used to clean the ocean and kill parasites in people’s bodies. Amplified by bright, exciting photos, this series simplifies tech in a way that’s still engaging and informative. VERDICT A great series for most libraries, especially if your collections are lacking on these topics at this reading level.

You really can’t go wrong with any ­series in this section. “Seedlings” (Creative Education), “Machines with Power!” (Bellwether/Blastoff! Beginners), and “Wild Rides” (Black Rabbit/Bolt Jr.) are exciting, engaging picks for the youngest vehicle-obsessed kids in your library. “Cutting Edge Technology” (Bellwether/Epic) “Xtreme Speed” (ABDO/A&D Xtreme), and “Military Vehicles” (Mitchell Lane/Little Mitchie) will appeal to elementary readers. Middle and high school hobbyists and report writers will find much to appreciate in “World of Drones” (ReferencePoint) and “The Risks of ­Social Media” (ReferencePoint). But if you have to pick just one from this stellar class, we recommend “Medieval Tech Today” (­Capstone) for its all-around excellence.

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