Science Comics: Bridges: Engineering Masterpieces

First Second. (Science Comics). Jul. 2022. 128p. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781250216892. pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781250216908. .
Gr 4-7–Bea, Archie, Trudy, and Spence are fans of the architecture and engineering of bridges, and together they zip across the globe to visit prominent examples, each allying with a construction technique similar to their names: beam, arch, truss, and suspension. As the physics of each category is explained, the book becomes cumulative, with the reader able to notice how newer bridges use combinations of techniques to distribute force. However, as the gang crisscrosses the planet, the hollowness of the framing narrative is revealed. A fourth-quarter induction of Spence into B.A.T.S. feels groundless, and aside from providing a variety in age, gender, and ethnicity, the characters feel simply like a mnemonic of the types of bridge—which is already present in their team name. They exist to fill out the page while contributing an overstuffed quality to the narration, which is so eager to inform and entertain that the spectacle of the subject matter—the book repeats that bridges should be beautiful as well as functional—never lands under the deluge of captions, jokes, and marginalia. Ultimately, the book wants the reader to use the tools provided to appreciate the bridges one sees in the world, but the aesthetics of the presentation don’t inspire the reader with sufficient awe.
VERDICT An effective primer on the physics and variety of bridges, but too frenetic and lacking in a sufficient humanist or aesthetic hook to grab many readers unless other volumes in the series are already checked out.

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