From putting one foot in front of the other to the X-37B space drone, Jackson and Shepherd combine to make the path of transportation as wiggly-wriggly as a night crawler—and as crazily alluring.
Using an extended graphic format, Jackson takes readers on a circuitous and enchanting journey from the first to the latest developments in mechanized transportation. His approach is unusual but quite successful in explaining how various elements, molecules, natural phenomena, and human brainpower brought us to the wheel—via cave painting, blue lava, the invention of smelting, and the combination of copper and tin to make bronze. (He will also mention Hercules and the Hydra’s halitosis along the way, because it’s fun and it has connections.) Shepherd keeps readers’ eyes active with a vast array of cartoon depictions flanking a linear highway between main events. The pages are equally populated with byways: readers also learn why we have a.m. and p.m., the importance of the number 60 to the Babylonians, and how a knot came to represent speed. Plus there are all the forms of transportation to cover: land, sea, wind, air, each with its own arcana—snails that attached themselves to the bottom of ships also brought us the fabled Phoenician royal purple (“although it was actually a deep red”), which led to the knockoff red made from cochineal bugs.
A history of transportation, indeed, and a book of wonders as well. (Nonfiction. 8-12)