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Following the nature-guide format he used in A Field Guide to Roadside Technology(2006), Sobey (director, Northwest Invention Ctr.) here provides one-page descriptions of the technology found in or around houses, apartments, and houseboats. Each of the approximately 200 entries covers the behavior (function), habitat (location), and "how it works" of an appliance or component of household infrastructure, from an electric toothbrush to a chimney. Sobey's explanations are written in a breezy, conversational style that will attract younger readers intrigued by the technology around them. But the book offers little technical insight for armchair scientists. Furthermore, murky black-and-white photographs and the lack of cutaways or other diagrams detract from its utility. Other choices that serve comparable functions include John Langone's The New How Things Work, Michael Wright and Mukul Patel's Scientific American: How Things Work Today, and David Macaulay's perennial classic, The New Way Things Work. Appropriate for school (grades 6–12) and public libraries.
By Judith Sutton, New York