Part of Picture Window Books' "Amazing Science" series, this book for the library market tries to answer kids' questions about how simple machines work. Included are side bars, fun facts, a glossary, and an activity that builds on the book's lessons. Building on the concept of a simple machine, which is defined as anything that helps people do work, children learn what a lever is and how it uses a fulcrum to work. When a screwdriver is used to open a can of paint, a lever is being used. When children play on a seesaw, a lever is in action. Even the act of opening a bottle of root beer demonstrates the concept of a stiff bar moving against a steady support. The message reinforced here is that many levers surround us, whether they be first-, second-, or third-class levers. The activity uses a large marshmallow, pencil, ruler, and yard stick to demonstrate how a lever works. The bright, computerized illustrations work nicely with the text to entice young readers to hunker down and dig into the book's concepts.
- Jamaica Johnson Conner
Dahl opens this addition to the "Amazing Science" series with the statement "Painting a garage is hard, hot, sweaty work. It's time for a break. A metal opener pops off the top of a soda pop can. Ahhhhh! Did you know that all day you have been working with simple machines called levers?" This clever introduction, which relates the concept of levers to a child's experiences, is paired with vibrant illustrations of a sweaty, young man with paint on his arm and clothing on one page and an eager, painted hand gripping the top of a soda can on the opposite page. This pairing of Shea's realistic images with Dahl's well-explained concepts makes for an excellent learning tool. Dahl proceeds to define a lever, explain how it works, cite several examples from everyday life, provide an engaging experiment, and include a list of fun facts, a glossary, and a reference section.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-These simple concept books are full of pizzazz and wonderfully illustrated with digital graphics that show kids doing typical kid things. The lumberman on the cover of Cut may not be as enticing as the active children depicted on the other titles. The book also has fewer internal pictures of youngsters, although there is a spread of a boy surrounded by wedges of cake, pie, and pizza. Other spreads depict and discuss doorstops, nails, and airplane wings. In Roll, skateboards, playground slides, and roller coasters are used as examples. Best of all is Scoop, which clearly describes several versions of the lever, found in the playground, garage, and kitchen. Tires discusses wheel sizes, gears, cranks, etc. Unfortunately, "axles" is misspelled on the cover. Each book has an activity and "Fun Facts." The FactHound Web sites listed add more information, but don't take kids to any fun, interactive sites. If you have Sally Hewitt's Machines We Use (Children's Press, 1998) or Anne Welsbacher's "Understanding Simple Machines" series (Capstone, 2001), you may not need these books.-Debbie Whitbeck, West Ottawa Public Schools, Holland, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Michael Dahl is the prolific author of the bestselling Goodnight Baseball picture book and more than 200 other books for children and young adults. He has won the AEP Distinguished Achievement Award three times for his nonfiction, a Teacher's Choice award from Learning magazine, and a Seal of Excellence from the Creative Child Awards. And he has won awards for his board books for the earliest learners, Duck Goes Potty and Bear Says "Thank You!" Dahl has written and edited numerous graphic novels for younger readers, authored the Library of Doom adventure series, the Dragonblood books, Trollhunters, and the Hocus Pocus Hotel mystery/comedy series. Dahl has spoken at schools, libraries, and conferences across the US and the UK, including ALA, AASL, IRA, and Renaissance Learning. He currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota in a haunted house.