The Way Things Work Now

illus. by David Macaulay. rev. ed. 400p. glossary. index. HMH. Oct. 2016. Tr $35. ISBN 9780544824386.
Gr 6 Up—It's been 28 years since Macaulay's brilliant volume exploded on the scene and 12 since its last updating, and with the technological world quickly evolving, this incarnation is more than welcome. Covering everything from the simplest of machines to the modern microcompressor, Macaulay uses clever illustrations and a lucid (often amusing) text to explain the complex interrelationships of the mechanical world. But it is the illustrations that catch the eye. Yes, the woolly mammoths still galumph through the pages, demonstrating such principles as heat by radiating warmth while acting as a rotund clothes dryer. Small people also potter about, dancing to a record player (yes, still included), pulping wood, and tilting at windmills. Small flutters of angels appear, positioning camshafts and adjusting camera lenses. But these seemingly frivolous drawings focus readers' attention on the matter at hand. "Things," both in the real world and in this book, have changed. The writing is tighter. Color has burst into the illustrations, making the whole hefty tome appear lighter and brighter. Some elements have vanished: the elevator is gone; the escalator remains. Hybrid cars appear while the tape recorder has slipped away, as has the compact disc player. Sections on the computer and robots have been completely redone. A small note: Briticisms are back. The mechanical world is evolving at warp speed, and the solidly printed page cannot keep up. But that is no reason not to embrace this long-awaited update to one of the more original books ever printed.
VERDICT A delightful choice for browsing and reference.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
New ed., 1988. [=With]Last revised in 1998 as The New Way Things Work, this new edition of Macaulay's 1988 classic The Way Things Work brings us into the smartphone era. While the chapter on "the digital domain" receives the most new material, there is new information in many chapters (e.g., the jump jet replaced by the quadcopter); color has been added and refreshed throughout.

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