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THE FORT ON FOURTH STREET by Lois Spangler

THE FORT ON FOURTH STREET

A Story about the Six Simple Machines

By Lois Spangler (Author) , Christina Wald (Illustrator)

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-60718-620-5
Publisher: Sylvan Dell

An introduction to simple machines that goes wrong at “Fort” and just gets worse.

Wedging the informational content into uncommonly awful verse (“These are the wheels and axles / that move my wagon without hassles”), a young narrator describes each step in the construction of said “fort” (actually, in the bland illustrations, an elaborately designed playhouse). In doing so, the book demonstrates each of six simple machines, mostly tools, in action, though not always in the right order or with much sense to their use. Grandpa, who furnishes most of the labor, really should be levering up rocks to clear the site before, not after, the project’s sawn boards have been assembled, for instance. Moreover, the tools on display include a never-seen-in-use hammer and spirit level, plus a pulley that would be useful for a treehouse but is nonsensical here: “This is the pulley that brings up the treats, / so yummy and sweet that we love to eat.” Looking much larger inside than out in final views, the finished building is furnished as a science lab and in a shocking (shocking) denouement, the owner turns out to be a girl. A visual quiz, explanatory notes and other pedagogical backmatter fill the closing pages.

Readers will be “plane” inclined to ditch this screw-up. (Informational picture book. 7-9)