The Everyday Workings of Machines: How Machines Work, from Toasters and Telephones to Hovercrafts and Robots

Quarto/Ivy Kids. Oct. 2020. 48p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780711254275.
Gr 3-6–Readers who like visual graphics will appreciate the colorful diagrams, cross-sections, and cutaways of the machines depicted in this book. These range from simple and commonplace machines (stapler, scissors, toaster, toilet, bicycle, and the balance scale) to more complex and less-familiar machines (the wind turbine, the Large Hadron Collider, the Mars Rover robots, the smoke alarm, and the electric train). Most illustrations have numbered sequential steps showing how the machine works, accompanied by brief explanatory text. This format works best with the simple machines because they require less explanation. However, with the more complex machines, the format hinders well-rounded explanations, so the information raises more questions than answers. For example, step three on the wind turbine states: “The gearbox changes the slow motion of the low-speed shaft into a faster movement that drives another shaft.” How exactly is this done? What’s a gearbox? What’s a shaft? A conclusion tying together several ideas would also make the text feel complete and boost readers’ comprehension.
VERDICT The mechanically inclined and those interested in how machines work will enjoy the many colorful graphics, but the text would most likely require supplementary information.

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