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Build a Builder - Books to Encourage Design & Invention

How does it work? Why does it do that? How is it made? These books might not answer those questions specifically, but they will encourage your child to explore how the technology and tools they use work. Learn how graphic design communicates information and how common machines are made. Readers will also be inspired by two books about renowned inventors who's design careers had an early start. Don't be surprised by your kids' new desire to tinker, build, take apart, and remake.
So You Want to Be an Inventor? So You Want to Be an Inventor?
Ages: All Ages
Author: Judith St. George   Illustrator: David Small  
Penguin Putnam Inc., $16.99 (Paperback)

This is just the book for kids who like "to tinker with machines that clink and clank, levers that pull, bells that ring, cogs that grind, switches that turn on and off, wires that vibrate, dials that spin." etc "If you want to be an inventor, find a need and fill it," says author St. George. The author lists necessary attributes of an inventor: be a dreamer; keep your eyes open; "be stubborn as a bulldog", don't mind being laughed at. More than three dozen inventors have been well chosen as examples of the various attributes useful to a would-be inventor.

The New Way Things Work The New Way Things Work
Ages: All Ages
Author: David MaCaulay   Illustrator: David MaCaulay  
Houghton Mifflin Co., $35.00 (Hard Cover)   

The New Way Things Work, like the best-selling original is a superb illustrated guide to the technical processes everyday devices and well-known machines work. The book is organized by the broad scientific principles that govern technology (i.e. electricity, chemical elements). The titles are done in a clever way for curious young thinkers. The illustrations are large and demonstrate the process of broad to more specific. Attuned readers will note that complex scientific principles influence a multitude of simpler ones. The inclusion of household devices with more complex technology offers a fascinating look at the dynamics of technology. The format entices. The index is complete. A fine glossary helps. The New Way Things Work could be used by children with a burgeoning interest in all fields of hard science.

Building Big Building Big
Ages: 4 & Up
By: David MaCaulay  
Houghton Mifflin Co., $30.00 (Hard Cover)   

Author David Macaulay engages readers’ imaginations and gets them thinking about structures they see and use every day - bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes, and dams. Through vivid text and imagery, he provides a glimpse into the minds of the designers and engineers who first envisioned such projects to see where their inspiration and ideas came from.

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Emily Arnold McCully   Illustrator: Emily Arnold McCully  
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.00 (Hard Cover)   

Based on the life of Margaret E. Knight, Marvelous Mattie takes readers back to the Industrial Revolution in a true story with as many dramatic turns of events as any work of fiction. Always an imaginative child, Mattie uses her father's toolbox to put her ideas into practice, creating kites, footwarmers, and other life-enhancing devices for her family. Economic circumstances later compel Mattie's mother (and eventually a teenage Mattie herself) to take grueling work in the New England textile mills - an experience that prompts Mattie to begin designing machines that are both safer and more efficient.

The Boy Who Invented T.V.: The Story of Philo Farnsworth The Boy Who Invented T.V.: The Story of Philo Farnsworth
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Random House Children's Books, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

The Boy Who Invented TV tells the story of the young inventor, Philo Farnsworth. Farnsworth always loved music and mechanical equipment-in fact, he learned to read in part by looking at the gadgets for sale in the Sears Roebuck catalogs. After the advent of "magic box" radio, scientists scrambled to develop a way to transmit visual images too. Farnsworth, though only a young person with a hobbyist's interest in science, beat everyone to it. His epiphany came while looking at rows of dirt on the farm-their parallel lines got him thinking about parallel lines of light, and so an idea was born. After eight years of trial and error, detailed by author Kathleen Krull, Farnsworth transmitted the first television image, a picture of his wife.

Built To Last Built To Last
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: David MaCaulay  
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/ Harcourt Children's Books, $24.99 (Hard Cover)   

David Macaulay combines and updates three of his books about buildings designed to endure the test of time-"Cathedral" (1973), "Castle" (1977) and "Mosque" (2003). This new and improved, three-in-one version features revised text, new illustrations, and the details, history, insight and wit readers have come to expect from this gifted author. Each section traces the buildings from their start in back-breaking labor and simple tools to their completion as amazing architectural accomplishments. Alongside the remarkable hand-drawn images, the book contextualizes these ancient and medieval buildings. At times, the explanations become necessarily sophisticated and technical, but they always remain accessible, thought-provoking, and entertaining. This is a rare and exceptional book.

Designer Dossier: Graphic Design/ Kids Designer Dossier: Graphic Design/ Kids
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Pamela Pease  
Paintbox Press, $24.00 (Hard Cover)   

Beautifully designed and clearly written, Design Dossier: Graphic Design elegantly integrates an explanation of what graphic design is, its trends through time, and the people who work within the field. It culminates in a cleverly presented design identity project. Highlights of the book include a Milestones of Graphic Design timeline, tracing turn of the 20th century posters through contemporary videogame graphics. In the designer portfolio section, a diverse selection of active designers are described on two sided cards offering their biographies one side and a collection of their work on the other. A black portfolio envelope at the book's end holds a card offering advice for creating a logo along with stencils that can be used to create one. For children in schools where art budgets have been cut drastically, this book offers an excellent introduction to a creative career in high demand.

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