Elem./MG – Explaining How Things Work (Series NF)

Higgins, Nadia. Explaining How Things Work. The Child’s World, 2022. 32 p. $24.00 ea. $240.00 Set of 10.  Grades 3-5.

How Do Airplanes Work? 978-1-503-85589-2.
How Do Cell Phones Work?
How Do Hybrid Cars Work? 978-1-503-85593-9.
How Do Lasers Work?
How Do Submarines Work?
How Do Telescopes, Binoculars, and Microscopes Work?
How Do Wind Turbines Work?
How Does Electricity Work?
How Does Solar Energy Work?
How Does the Internet Work?

There are more than 5 billion cell phones in the world today, and many people can’t imagine living without one. This nonfiction title details the history of cell phones and also explains the science behind their operation. It explains how sound waves work, why frequency is important, and how base stations and switching centers operate. Text features such as a table of contents, glossary, index, timeline, headings, captions, and spotlight boxes help readers navigate and understand the information. Colorful illustrations as well as real primary source photographs are interspersed throughout the book. This title is one in a 10-book series about how things work. The series also features books about airplanes; electricity; hybrid cars; the Internet; lasers; solar energy; submarines; wind turbines; and telescopes, binoculars, and microscopes.

THOUGHTS: Although the science of how cell phones work is complex, this title makes the information easily accessible for middle grade readers. Large, colorful pictures, lots of captions, and chunked information ensures the facts aren’t too overwhelming. Share this book with science and technology teachers to jumpstart conversations about how technology impacts our lives today and where it might be heading in the future.

384.5 Wireless Communication          Anne Bozievich, Southern York County SD

Elem. – A Life Electric: The Story of Nikola Tesla

Westergaard, Azadeh. A Life Electric: The Story of Nikola Tesla. Viking, 2021. Unpaged. 978-0-593-11460-5.  Grades 1-4. $17.99.

In this picture book biography, the author tells readers how much more Nikola Tesla contributed to science than his hair-raising Tesla coil. Born during a thunderstorm in modern day Croatia, the future scientist was interested in animals, books, and electricity as a young boy. He even designed his own inventions, like a “rotating motor powered by the fast, flapping wings of sixteen June bugs.” Tesla was a good student, excelling in many subjects, but electrical engineering was his passion. Soon he came up with an innovative way to transmit electricity over long distances by sending electric currents back and forth on a wire. Tesla traveled to the United States to share his discovery. There he met businessman George Westinghouse and they worked together to develop the electric motor. This invention was presented at the 1893 Chicago World Fair to much acclaim. Sadly, the Wizard of Electricity did not profit much from his creation due to unfortunate business decisions. Although Nikola died alone and poor in New York in 1943, over two thousand prominent scientists, businessmen, and artists attended his funeral. As one friend observed, “So far reaching is his work… should Tesla’s work be suddenly withdrawn-darkness would prevail.”  The back matter provides more biographical details, vintage photographs, and suggested readings.  Sarda’s illustrations are rendered digitally and have a folk art quality.

THOUGHTS: This is an intriguing life story of this important, but underappreciated, inventor, whose electrical discoveries are so crucial to the modern world. By revealing Tesla’s non-technical interests such as poetry and caring for hungry or injured pigeons, the author has presented a unique portrait of the man. This text works as a good introduction to electricity units and is a worthwhile purchase for elementary collections.

Biography  92, 921          Denise Medwick, Retired, PSLA Member
621.3092 Electrical Engineering