I’m always on the lookout for high-quality non-fiction books that will engage and inform young readers and Marvellous Machines fits the bill. From everyday objects such as a fridge and kettle that most young children will have in their homes, to space stations and submarines. Modes of transport including the bicycle (think pedal power) and car are also included. This range adds to the appeal.
The book begins by defining what a machine is and explaining the forces needed to make machines go. From here, the inner workings of a range of machines are explored. We begin in the kitchen which is a great place to begin. I can imagine a curious young reader being thrilled to learn that heat is moved around inside the fridge to keep food chilled and that a wire called a filament is heated inside a toaster. These are the kinds of nuggets of knowledge children love to be in possession of and to share.
There are a number of reasons I would want to see this book being used in the classroom. Firstly, Jane Wilsher imparts a great deal of high-quality information without overwhelming a reader. The clarity of the explanations is excellent and abstract concepts are concisely described without ever sacrificing the science. Andres Lozano’s illustrations are bright and appealing and the diagrams make the text explicit. There are one or two places where the arrows could point more clearly to the part of the machine being labelled but this is a minor criticism. The book does not have a glossary but the technical vocabulary is used in such a way as to be clarified within the text. The inclusion of source notes adds an interesting dimension when considering the authenticity of the information included and how research is undertaken by authors. The ‘invention analyser’ is an ingenious addition revealing hidden information. It will be vital to keep this safe but it does add a further dimension to the reading. Each spread contains either a prompt to look closely at something or a challenge to find objects on the page. This aspect in particular means I can see this book being pored over by small groups of children taking on the challenge to spot different things.
Marvellous Machines would make an excellent addition to any Junior science collection and could spark further interest in the curious young reader to learn more about the machines described.
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These notes may be printed freely for use in classrooms but may not be reproduced in any other format without the permission of the author.