Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
How Machines Work: Zoo Break!

How Machines Work: Zoo Break!

Spring 2016 Non-Fiction
Ages: 7 - 10 yrs.
Publisher: DK Publishing
ISBN: 9781465440129
Hardcover Price: $19.99

Award-winning writer and illustrator David Macaulay is famous for explaining and illustrating complex subjects in simple, fun and informative ways. His latest book - How Machines Work: Zoo Break! - further demonstrates his talent.

Designed for younger readers, this remarkable book blends hands-on lessons covering six simple machines (levers, pulleys, screws, inclined planes, wedges and wheels) with a humorous and colorful tale about a sloth and a shrew, namely, Sloth and Sengi, who are trying to break out of a zoo using simple mechanisms and machines they build.

Page by page, the duo's attempts to engineer their escape are illustrated with pop-ups, pull-outs, lift-the-flaps, and other novel mechanisms that make the story jump off the page-literally. In one spread, Sloth and Sengi are trying to use a seesaw (a basic lever) and several car tires as a counterweight to propel themselves over the zoo fence. Young readers get to build the seesaw right on the book's double-page spread, erect the zoo fence, and learn firsthand how a lever works.

Immediately eye-catching is the book's cover that is equipped with an interactive compound "machine" made of working gears kids can turn to lift and lower Sloth. At the end, following a large pop-up of Sloth and Sengi's largest and most complex escape machine, one that incorporates all of the earlier simple machines, there's a glossary of related terms to help readers grasp key words.

Clever and smart, this is a fantastic and lively romp of an introduction to basic engineering disguised as a funny kids' storybook.

Don Oldenburg   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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