Altogether, a fine exploration of technologies emerging over the eons and their remarkable interconnectedness.

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HOW WE GOT TO NOW

SIX INNOVATIONS THAT MADE THE MODERN WORLD

Beginning with ideas that emerged thousands of years ago, Johnson tracks a series of innovations that led world culture to where it is now.

In an adaption for younger readers of his adult work of the same name (2014), he tracks six pathways arranged along the following themes (which also serve as chapter titles): glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light. The chapter on glass begins with the discovery of natural glass in the Libyan desert about 10,000 years ago and tracks it through use as jewelry, the creation of windowpanes, the development of glass that was clear, the creation of eyeglasses (necessary as books became more common), the development of other types of lenses and the scientific advances they inspired, and finally to fiber-optic cables in the digital age and creation of a massive telescope in Hawaii. Each engaging chapter remains fully grounded in the fundamental concept that advances inspire further developments, serving to present history in a nutshell that is still shown as a grand sweep of progress. A single minor gripe is that in the chapter on time, a detail on early photography is off by a few years. Excellent backmatter rounds out a balanced and thoroughly engaging presentation.

Altogether, a fine exploration of technologies emerging over the eons and their remarkable interconnectedness. (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28778-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike.

ULTIMATE OCEANPEDIA

THE MOST COMPLETE OCEAN REFERENCE EVER

A compendium of all things oceanic, from surface to depths, covering biology, geology, coasts, climatic phenomena, and human use and abuse.

Considering the size of the general topic, the coverage isn’t as shallow as it might be. Hundreds of crisply professional nature photos and big, easy-to-follow charts and diagrams anchor waves of densely packed but often breezy commentary (“Many parrotfish species also make their own sleeping bags at night—out of mucus!”) that Wilsdon pours in beneath such headers as “It’s a Shore Thing” and “Belize It or Not!” Overviews of each ocean, of plate tectonics, the action and effects of ocean currents, worldwide climate change, and physical features from islands to abyssal plains sail by in succession, but marine biology takes pride of place with page after page of photogenic sea life from tiny krill on up to whales and polar bears. The author profiles a marine ecologist and interviews an oceanographer to cap chapters on modern research, exploration, and industries, then closes with generous lists of sites to visit physically or virtually.

A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2550-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Personal notes give this stirring tribute to speed, power, and technological prowess an unusually intimate air.

CROSSING ON TIME

STEAM ENGINES, FAST SHIPS, AND A JOURNEY TO THE NEW WORLD

Childhood memories, as well as loads of historical and archival research, anchor a history of ocean liners from the invention of steam pumps to the magnificent SS United States.

Linked by recollections of his own family’s 1957 journey from the U.K. to New York aboard the United States, Macaulay traces the development of steam-powered ships from a small 1783 paddle-driven experiment to the 990-foot monster that still holds the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing by a ship of its type. Ignoring the Titanic-like tragedies, he focuses on design and engineering—mixing profile portraits of dozens of increasingly long, sleek hulls with lovingly detailed cutaway views of boilers, turbines, and power trains, structural elements being assembled (sometimes with the help of a giant authorial hand reaching down from the skies), and diagrams of decks and internal workings. All of this is accompanied by sure, lucid explanations and culminates in a humongous inside view of the United States on a multiple gatefold, with very nearly every room and cupboard labeled. Having filled in the historical highlights, the author turns to his own story with an account of the five-day voyage and his first impressions of this country that are made more vivid by reconstructed scenes and family photos. A waiter in one of the former is the only person of color in clear view, but human figures of any sort are rare throughout.

Personal notes give this stirring tribute to speed, power, and technological prowess an unusually intimate air. (timeline, further reading) (Nonfiction/memoir. 11-14)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-477-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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