Stickmen’s Guide to How Things Work: Discover How Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Other Great Machines Work

Beetle Bks. (Stickmen’s Guides: Bk. 1). May 2020. 96p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781913077167.
Gr 4-6–Blank-faced stick figures interact with cut-away illustrations and technical descriptions in this diagram-heavy overview of the inner and outer workings of various vehicles and construction machinery. The book is organized into sections that cover cars, motorcycles, trains, flight, watercraft, and gigantic machines. Along with familiar forms of transportation and machinery (gas-powered cars, passenger ships, and dump trucks), readers will also learn about experimental solar-powered planes, maglev trains, hovercrafts, and machines such as the Large Hadron Collider. Short introductory paragraphs in the upper left corner of each spread help to provide context to the mechanical concepts. For instance, the paragraph in the “Cars: Wheels and Brakes” section states, “Suspension deals with bumps to keep the wheel on the road,” and then presents a detailed diagram and explanation of how a suspension system works. However, not all of the advanced vocabulary words are as clearly defined in the text or included in the glossary. This, combined with the small font size used throughout, limits the usefulness of the title to younger audiences, though they might still enjoy following the antics of the stickmen throughout the illustrations.
VERDICT An additional purchase for upper elementary collections where infographics and technology books are popular.

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