Backward Science: What Was Life Like Before World-Changing Discoveries?

QEB/Quarto/. May 2020. 64p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780711249905.
Gr 3-6–Gifford explores major inventions that have changed society. He begins with the invention of the first smartphone by U.S. electronic engineer Frank Canova in 1992 and ends with discoveries that shaped early farming (such as the scratch plow and irrigation systems). A one-paragraph summary explains every innovation, person, or time period. Wilson’s illustrations help readers visualize each particular moment in time. Though the book contains a table of contents, a glossary, a time line, and an index, it notably lacks a list of sources cited or bibliography. There are various points throughout the text where the time line suddenly jumps forward. Although this book may be a good starting point for learning about a variety of inventions, its lack of cohesion and flow from one topic to the next may make it difficult for some readers to stay engaged. The organization of content does not always support readers’ comprehension. Surprisingly, Gifford does not cover any inventions from 2008 onward.
VERDICT While this book’s design is attractive and its premise is intriguing, there are other informational texts about inventions and innovation that better capture young readers’ interest. Best as an additional purchase.

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