K-Gr 2Illustrated with attractive, colorful photographs, these books offer short, simple introductions to their respective subjects. The brief texts (two or three sentences per page) explain the specific functions of each type of structure mentioned. Canals presents a nice array of examples ranging from the canals of Venice to the Erie Canal and offers a simple yet clear explanation of how locks work by using an analogy of toys that float in a bathtub or a wading pool. Towers is the least successful of the three, for the word is never defined or explained, and examples include church steeples, a silo, a windmill, and the Washington Monument. Organization is unfocused, and some of the text is irrelevant ("The cows eat after they are milked"). On one occasion, pictures and text don't agree, and the questions are condescending. All three titles have three-page photo indexes that give a few additional facts about the canals, dams, or towers depicted. The bright, informative photos are the strength of these series entries.Katherine Borchert, Arlington Central Library, VA
In this photo essay in the new Building Block series, Hill capitalizes on children's natural fascination with high places and tall buildings, and acquaints them with a variety of engineering feats in the form of towers.
Brief text paired with each photo simply instructs young readers in the purpose of towers: A water tower holds water, a silo stores grain, a windmill catches the wind, a communications tower sends messages. Famous towers such as the Sears Tower, Eiffel Tower and Space Needle are mentioned alongside less- familiar fire towers, cranes, lookouts, and bell towers. Hill encourages interest in structure and architecture by addressing readers directly and asking questions: "Have you ever picked up a full bucket?" helps readers understand the strength required of water towers. The full-color photos of buildings are cleverly juxtaposed with a scene of a girl constructing her own toy tower. A photo index at the back of the book identifies each tower and adds a brief fact. Towers around the world share the sky with birds; Hill's book invites all eyes to gaze up and imagine.