Marvelous Machines – Jane Wilsher, illustrations by Andrés Lozano

Marvelous Machines – Jane Wilsher, illustrations by Andrés Lozano, What On Earth Books, 9781912920204, 2021

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book? This book explores in a unique way how machines that we use either every day in the kitchen, we see on the street, or might need at the doctor’s office work on the inside. Using the red “magic lens” included, readers can look at the items that have red wavy lines over them and see into them (it is very easy to identify these areas).  In this way, you can look under the hood of a car, see the pipes in a house, see how a rocket is powered and read facts that are dispersed throughout the pages. It is fun even for adults to look at what appears. While not completely hidden, those items and words are enough obscured to need the lens to see them. It is a random assortment of items that are looked at with some two page spreads covering whole groups of machines, while other spreads focus on just one like the telephone. An index in the back allows for better navigation.  

Kids enamored with how things work will love this book and others who like interactive books might learn something. It could amaze and entertain a preschooler, but has enough information and detail to engage an elementary school student. I particularly like the page about getting a book printed, not only because it goes into detail and gives a nice example of what four-color printing is, but also the book being printed is the book you are reading. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? It is set up as a find-it type of book and gives a numbered list of items on the page to find. However, the items are just all numbered in order and easily seen on the page. While the information is still interesting, the concept is misleadingly presented. Additionally, the use of red for the lens and dots that “disappear” to see the blue underneath brings up questions of how this would look to someone with color blindness. Lastly, there would be some concern about circulating this book as the “magic lens” has a place that it can be held in the front of the book, but might be prone to fall out and small hands might warp the lens itself after several uses. 

To whom would you recommend this book? Any child from preschool into elementary school who is fascinated by how things work. It is reminiscent of Brian Biggs books in style and a more simple version of Stephan Beisty’s cross-section books.

Who should buy this book? Public Libraries and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it? Nonfiction in the 600s

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Clare Dombrowski, Amesbury Public Library, Amesbury MA

Date of review: 1/23/21

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