More hip pop-art science from Basher and Green, though here the collaborators may have “bytten” off more than they can chew.
They lead off with a tribute to “that ancient Greek brainiac” Archimedes, the only inventor who gets more than a quick name-drop. Then, portrait-gallery–style, the team introduces several dozen personified machines from “Wheel and Axle” (“Hey there, let’s start this thing rollin’!”) to “Radar” and “Rocket.” Household appliances like “Toilet” and (landline) “Telephone” also step up to the mike, as do such basic materials as “Concrete” and “Plastic,” as well as high-tech wizardry including “User Interface” and “Internet.” Each subject introduces itself with a pair of paragraphs over a trio of unrelated facts, while Basher provides for each a stylized, considerably simplified cartoon portrait anthropomorphized by a smiling white face with slanted, slit eyes. Though readers will come away at least exposed to terms like “thermosetting” and “laser sintering,” Green’s facts aren’t always kosher—“once defunct,” says Satellite, “we move to a graveyard orbit”—or even comprehensible (“World’s most efficient gas turbine: 60%.”). Furthermore, despite statements from “Smart Card” and “Particle Accelerator” not all of the entries are so cutting-edge; the “Cell Phone,” for instance, only makes phone calls and sends texts.
A quick skim; flashy though not particularly nourishing. (foldout poster) (Nonfiction. 10-12)