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The New Way Things Work Hardcover – October 26, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

"Is it a fact--or have I dreamt it--that, by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time?" If you, like Nathaniel Hawthorne, are kept up at night wondering about how things work--from electricity to can openers--then you and your favorite kids shouldn't be a moment longer without David Macaulay's The New Way Things Work. The award-winning author-illustrator--a former architect and junior high school teacher--is perfectly poised to be the Great Explainer of the whirrings and whizzings of the world of machines, a talent that landed the 1988 version of The Way Things Work on the New York Times bestsellers list for 50 weeks. Grouping machines together by the principles that govern their actions rather than by their uses, Macaulay helps us understand in a heavily visual, humorous, unerringly precise way what gadgets such as a toilet, a carburetor, and a fire extinguisher have in common.

The New Way Things Work boasts a richly illustrated 80-page section that wrenches us all (including the curious, bumbling wooly mammoth who ambles along with the reader) into the digital age of modems, digital cameras, compact disks, bits, and bytes. Readers can glory in gears in "The Mechanics of Movement," investigate flying in "Harnessing the Elements," demystify the sound of music in "Working with Waves," marvel at magnetism in "Electricity & Automation," and examine e-mail in "The Digital Domain." An illustrated survey of significant inventions closes the book, along with a glossary of technical terms, and an index. What possible link could there be between zippers and plows, dentist drills and windmills? Parking meters and meat grinders, jumbo jets and jackhammers, remote control and rockets, electric guitars and egg beaters? Macaulay demystifies them all. (All ages) --Karin Snelson

From School Library Journal

Grade 4 Up-The popular "guide to the workings of machines" (Houghton, 1988) has been updated to include the digital world. Of the 80 new pages advertised on the cover, 60 are found in the added section on computer technology. Very few items (parking meters and bicycle brakes) have disappeared into obsolescence, a few new ones have appeared (camcorders and airbags), and cosmetic changes are evident throughout in the enhanced color printing. The features that made the first edition a publishing phenomenon remain. Macaulay's clear and comprehensible drawings are accompanied by Neil Ardley's explanations, and in this edition the technical writer gets credit for his expertise on the title page. The bemused woolly mammoth of the original edition continues to demonstrate his prehistorically simple ideas on such concepts as heat, pressure, fire fighting, sending messages, etc., adding whimsical entries to entertain browsers. While much of the material remains unaltered, the significance of computer technology in our world makes this new edition a vital update or new purchase.
Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1180L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Rev Sub edition (October 26, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395938473
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395938478
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1.2 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Macaulay is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books have sold millions of copies in the United States alone, and his work has been translated into a dozen languages. Macaulay has garnered numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal and Honor Awards, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Christopher Award, an American Institute of Architects Medal, and the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award. In 2006, he was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, given "to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations." Superb design, magnificent illustrations, and clearly presented information distinguish all of his books. David Macaulay lives with his family in Vermont.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

175 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Lance on July 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
My god, this has to be one of my favorite books. When I was a kid, I was FASCINATED (well, I still am) by mechanical things. I must have checked this book out of the library twenty times, and it never got old. It is PACKED with info, the drawings are great, and it is very educational. Well, I was at the library today checking out books for a mechanical engineering class, and there it was on the shelf. I checked it out again for old times sake, and here I am at (to buy my very own copy of course), writing a reveiew. Nuff said. Anyway, if you have a child, boy or girl, old or young, smart or not, it doesn't matter- this book ROCKS!
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112 of 121 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
My nephew, who is six, thanks me everytime he sees me or talks to me on the phone for sending this book. This is a great book for curious children to "grow into" with their parents. It also helps parents look very smart to their children if they read it first!
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca of Amazon HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"The Way Things Work" took almost three years to create. A cute and sometimes silly "Great Wooly Mammoth" makes his appearance throughout the book. The facial expressions and animal antics are at times very amusing.

While the "Mammoth" theme is highlighted, this is a book which discusses serious concepts. They are simply explained in a more entertaining way. In between all the facts, you will suddenly find a page which discusses tusk trimming. "I watched with great curiosity a mammoth that was having its tusks trimmed....." Don't worry, as the story progresses, "velocity" is being explained.

Quite frankly, this book is not only a work of art, it is a compilation of genius. When David Macaulay, Niel Ardley, David Burnie, Peter Luff and Christopher Davis put their minds together for a book project, something amazing happens.

Where they came up with the 384 pages is beyond my comprehension. In fact, only taking three years to write and illustrate such a work, is in itself an incredible feat. Truly, this is a comprehensive, instructive and entertaining reference book for readers of all ages.

Life is too short for reading inferior books. - James Bryce This book is superior in so many ways. It is divided into four main sections: The Mechanics of Movement (inclined plane, levers, wheel and axle, gears and belts, cams and cranks, pulleys, screws, rotating wheels, springs, friction), Harnessing The Elements (floating, flying, pressure power, exploiting heat, nuclear power), Working With Waves (light and images, photography, printing, sound and music, telecommunications), Electricity & Automation (electricity, magnetism, sensors and detectors, computers).

Each page is filled with drawings so you can completely comprehend mechanical principles.
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120 of 132 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Do you think you know how a lot of things work? Yes? Well, you are probably wrong. I am a Physics Major in college and I thought I knew how a lot of things work. However, when I found this book in my physics professor's office, I fell in love with this book. I ordered for my copy on the same day. This book is good for the kids, but some of the stuff is hard to understand because there are some words like forces or angles. These are hard to understand for kids, but the pictures in this book are good for the curious kids. They may understand some of the stuff. But, I would rate this book for grownups. You will learn how locks work, how airplanes fly, how helicopters can go forward or backward. You will understand the mechanics just by looking at the pictures, but the reading the explanations also helps you understand. This is a nice book to keep at the corner of your bookshelf.
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89 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Ritter on May 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I bought this CD in the hope that it could help me teach my children science in general and physics in particular. I have a moderate understanding of how things work, but I am woefully undereducated in the scientific principles that underlie those workings. The New Way Things Work gives both: nuts-and-bolts explanations of things and succinct discussion of the underlying principles--and abundant links to go between the two.
There are timelines of machines and their inventions, as well as their inventors. Each machine has a page with a clear picture with the working parts labeled, and sometimes a short animation to further clarify the machine's action. There is a testing feature which is useful, if a bit humbling. The "Research Answer" button posted tantalizingly right at the bottom of each test question is a spur to further research, though I worry about the ethical implications. Does that mammoth think I'm cheating? Does that guy with the mustache and mannerisms of Martin Mull keep track of how many times I "research" an answer, and does that go on my permanent record? Perhaps there should be an on/off toggle.
The links on each machine page to the principles and inventors and vice versa may be where the CD has an advantage over a book, particularly for children. When I'm explaining something to my daughter and she doesn't understand part of the explanation, she wants that missing piece Right Now, and the hot links provide that immediacy. Paging to another part of a book and then loosing her original place frustrates her. That never happens with this CD, because she knows she can always hit the BACK button.
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