Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The New Way Things Work

0395938473The New Way Things Work
From David Macaulay
Published at Houghton Mifflin Books

About the book

The information age is upon us, baffling us with thousands of complicated state-of-the-art technologies. To help make sense of the computer age, David Macaulay brings us The New Way Things Work. This completely updated and expanded edition describes twelve new machines and includes more than seventy new pages detailing the latest innovations. With an entirely new section that guides us through the complicated world of digital machinery, where masses of electronic information can be squeezed onto a single tiny microchip, this revised edition embraces all of the newest developments, from cars to watches. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained--with the help of a charming, if rather slow-witted, woolly mammoth.

Who is David Macaulay?

David Macaulay, born in 1946, was eleven when his parents moved from England to Bloomfield, New Jersey. He found himself having to adjust from an idyllic English childhood to life in a fast paced American city. During this time he began to draw seriously, and after graduating from high school he enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). After spending his fifth year at RISD in Rome on the European Honors Program, he received a bachelor’s degree in architecture and vowed never to practice. After working as an interior designer, a junior high school teacher, and a teacher at RISD, Macaulay began to experiment with creating books. He published his first book, Cathedral, in 1973. Following in this tradition, Macaulay created other books—including City, Castle, Pyramid, Mill, Underground, Unbuilding, and Mosque—that have provided the explanations of the how and the why in a way that is both accessible and entertaining. From the pyramids of Egypt to the skyscrapers of New York City, the human race’s great architectural and engineering accomplishments have been demystified through Macaulay's elaborate show-and-tells. Five of these titles have been made into popular PBS television programs.

Macaulay and Mammoth ( Illustration from The New Way Things Work)

The range and breadth of his talent is also showcased in the more lighthearted picture books Rome Antics and Shortcut, as well as Black and White, which received the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1991.

Macaulay is perhaps best known for the award-winning international bestseller The Way Things Work, which was expanded and updated in 1998 and renamed The New Way Things Work. This brilliant and highly accessible guide to the workings of machines was dubbed “a superb achievement” by the New York Times and became a New York Times bestseller. Using a humorous woolly mammoth to illustrate principles, Macaulay offers even the least technically minded reader a window of understanding into the complexities of today’s technology. He uses this same humorous approach and uncanny ability to explain complicated systems in The Way We Work, which tackles the most intricate machine of all: the human body.

David Macaulay’s detailed illustrations and sly humor have earned him fans of all ages. His books have sold more than three million copies in the United States alone, and his work has been translated into a dozen languages. His many awards include the Caldecott Medal and Honor Awards, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, the Christopher Award, and the Washington Post–Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award. He was a two-time nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award and received the Bradford Washburn Award, presented by the Museum of Science in Boston to an outstanding contributor to science.

In 2006 he was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, given “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” As “an individual of distinction in the field of children’s literature,” Macaulay delivered the esteemed 2008 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, an honor bestowed on him by the American Library Association.

David Macaulay lives with his family in Vermont.

My Thoughts

From levers to lasers, windmills to web sites, this book is definitively a visual guide to the world of machines.    Illustrated by non other than David Macaulay, your child will explore how things work and get an understanding on how the day-to-day items in their life can work the way they do.

The book is divided in five sections:

  • Mechanics of movement will introduce your child to the inclined plane, levers, wheel, axle, gears, belts, cams, cranks, pulleys, screws, rotating wheels, springs and friction.
  • Harnessing the elements will give detailed explanation to anything that floats or fly, the pressure power, how to exploit heat and a nuclear plant.
  • Working with waves will give information on light, images, photography, printing, sound and music as well as telecommunications.
  • Electricity & automation will cover items that requires electricity, magnetism as well as sensors and detectors.
  • The digital domain will cover anything from bits and bytes to computers and the tools you now use on a regular basis everywhere.
  • The invention of machines is a section that will give your historical information about various inventions we now use daily.

Though I find the book might be a little overwhelming for a child who doesn’t master reading, this book is packed with interesting information.   As I was flipping the pages of the book, I arrived to a page about the toilet tank.   As I read it, my oldest son was immediately interested and grabbed the book when I was done.  

This book is a good reference for anyone who wants to know how things work.   You could have it on your shelf and then suddenly the book is found in the living room opened to a specific page.   This book could also be used for a research on a specific item for a better understanding as well as to see the illustration illustration how it works.  I wish there were a page on the snowmobile but unfortunately it isn’t the case.    The illustrations help to better understand and sometimes they will make you chuckle or smile.    I believe in learning using the various senses we have – this book will definitively enhanced the visual part of learning simply because of the illustrations.

Here’s an idea of what the pages looked like.


If your child is curious on how things works and he/she wants to understand more about these kind of things, The New Way Things Work is a fabulous book to have at home.

The New Way Things Work is available at your favourite bookstore, even

Disclaimer: Thanks to Thomas Allen for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own.

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