or, I Had So Much Fun, I Almost Puked
Age Range: 6 - 11
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Mindbender. Wild Thing. Ninja. Thunderbolt. The names of roller coasters are as evocative as Cook’s debut work, a look at the psychology and steel behind America’s most thrilling rides. A lively history of the roller coaster includes the ice slides of France in the 1800s, the first gravity railway on Coney Island that reached a whopping speed of six miles per hour, and the rise and fall in popularity of “woodies,” or wooden roller coasters. In a chapter on the physics of roller coasters, Cook cites comprehensible examples (such as the angle of a pencil to a desktop) to clearly explain such concepts as the science of motion and gravity, friction and drag, slope, and g force. Attractive inserts bring in the designers and engineers of the coaster, who allow riders to “feel like they’re going to die”; in these days of computerized engineering, Etch-A-Sketch-like scribbles on a computer screen are transformed into impressive assemblages of thousands of pieces of steel tracks and hills that span acres. One especially eye-catching chart outlines what happens inside the body during a coaster ride. In a final chapter, Cook gives “airtime” to coasters past and present. The colorful, captioned photographs—the swoosh of riders in motion, heads hanging upside down from an inside loop, or aerial views of a tiny car on wheels about to take the first drop—as well as the rest of the book—are more than worth the ride. (glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 6-11)

Pub Date: April 8th, 1998
ISBN: 1-57505-071-4
Page count: 56pp
Publisher: Carolrhoda
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998