An inside look at modern seagoing craft from water bikes to “ginormous” container ships, all crewed by stick figures.
Sporting featureless bubble heads on vanishingly thin bodies, the small cartoon figures are barely visible but do provide a sense of scale. They also offer a bit of action as they work, pose, fall overboard, or float in the few spaces available on the overcrowded spreads. Also barely visible, at least on the pages with relatively dark backgrounds, is Farndon’s chatty commentary, which is arranged in scattered blocks of tiny print set in two very thin and not particularly distinguishable typefaces. Along with a few unimpressively diminutive photos at the outset, the illustrations include simplified side views of a mix of actual and generic craft with portions cut away, plus schematic close-ups of propulsion systems, hull types, and sails. The co-published Stickmen’s Guide to Trains and Automobiles offers similarly sketchy overviews of the major components of modern cars (including generic hybrid and electric vehicles) and trains. Both volumes open with quick bits of historical background and close with a flurry of fringe inventions (such as a paddleboat powered by oxen). Considering the fleets of more memorably illustrated, not to mention more legible, surveys already available, neither is likely to entice readers aboard for more than a glance.
The gimmick’s thin in more ways than one, and the content never sails beyond routine. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)