How It Works
2012. 32p. 978-1-59643-744-9.
Gr 2-4–This early reader provides an intimate tour of a complex structure that budding engineers and/or young history buffs will love. The structure is first described from afar with “tall towers…and a wide moat,” then in greater detail once “you get past the guards.”  A variety of castle dwellers are briefly introduced, from the blacksmith to the lord and lady, as are the configurations of the rooms and fortifications. Young readers will giggle at the depiction of a guard visiting the toilet while gaining an understanding of how that facility would work. Outside the castle, an attack unfolds as battering rams are used against the walls and pigs are catapulted over the fortifications. Guards successfully repel invaders with boiling water and flaming arrows, and the book ends on a happy note with a celebratory feast. This engaging introduction to castles gives just enough information to explain each inhabitant’s occupation or a room’s purpose while keeping the text friendly to new readers. The abundance of new words is balanced by a comprehensive glossary and accompanying castle map, and the second-person voice gives an immediate “You are there” feeling that kids will appreciate. The pen-and-ink drawings, enhanced with color, helpfully illuminate the text by illustrating unfamiliar concepts, like “a siege” while giving life to the people and places described. Macaulay’s original Castle (Houghton Mifflin, 1977) is a great follow-up for readers who are looking for detailed information.–Marian McLeod, Darien Library, CT
With Sheila Keenan. Macaulay brings his signature brand of illustrated expository nonfiction to a younger audience. This book revisits a subject Macaulay has written about previously, but the topics are here presented with the needs of developing readers in mind. Abounding with Macaulay’s sly, mischievous wit, the narrative invites readers to envision themselves in the action; words and pictures work in tandem to effectively weave information into this framework. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.
Jet Plane: How It Works [My Readers]

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