Inner Workings: The Extraordinary Insides of Ordinary Things

Bushel & Peck. Jun. 2021. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781952239304.
Gr 3-6–Is the inner structure of a loaf of bread as complex as the inner workings of a toaster? This title provides answers through cutaway illustrations, informative captions, and labels that explain the inner workings of everyday items. Both man-made and natural objects are featured, showing the complexity of fabricated mechanisms and nature’s creations. A side-by-side comparison of a wooden beehive and a hornet’s nest reveal the ingenious construction of both types of insect communities. The text is written to appeal to kids and includes historical and fun facts. Zakharova employs double-page spreads, full-page exploded views, and small vignettes to showcase the striking content. Bright graphic art floats impressively on a black background that highlights the structural layers of food, fireworks, and more. Some cross-section illustrations convey interconnections better than others. The ant colony diorama is a fascinating graphic map of cooperative group activity that ranges from collecting food to laying eggs. Yet the bird’s-eye view of the anatomy of a billiard table is an ambiguous pattern of shapes and lines that may confuse young readers rather than clarify how the ball-return system works. The creative approach to showcasing technology and nature, however, will get kids thinking and asking questions about the world around them. Pair this title with David Macaulay’s The Way Things Work Now and Stephen Biesty’s “Incredible Cross-Sections” series for an in-depth dive into how our world works.
VERDICT A good introduction to STEM topics that will increase critical thinking skills and vocabulary.

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