Top critical review
17 people found this helpful
on March 7, 2011
I hate to say anything negative about a book and author who are so well esteemed. Indeed, Macaulay is an amazing artist and engineer, and the quality of the book is very high. But, this was my first exposure to his work, and it just wasn't what I expected after seeing his books come up in every homeschooling catalog I have.
I just couldn't get my younger kids (8, 7, 6, 4) into it. We bought the book as a staple for our unit on Ancient Egypt, and my boys in particular were really excited to learn about the pyramids. But this book didn't make it into our favorites. The book suffers from a couple main problems: one, it is black and white. For an adult, the detailed black and white ink is fabulous and easy to appreciate. Not so much for a kid. Page after page of black and white of the same subject matter only fascinated the most scientific of my kids.
Secondly, the length of the book makes it more appealing to upper elementary rather than lower elementary. My kindergartner really wanted me to sit down with him and this book when he first saw it. But I'd lost him by about ten pages in. Similarly, the text is hard to get into. It's dry. On some pages, there are only a sentence or two which the kids could handle while they were looking carefully at the drawings. But on others, there are larger and more complex paragraphs which even my third grader struggled with, in addition to the schematics.
In conclusion, this is a fabulous work on the subject but much more appealing to an adult. I know that many educators don't think resources should be dumbed down, but there is an art to making something age-appropriate and grooming younger ages to become more curious. I don't think this book extends far enough in this direction. It will only appeal to kids that already appreciate the subject somewhat, or have some amount of engineering understanding already. Or kids over third grade age. It's not that we didn't enjoy it at all... it's just more of a library rent than a purchase. Or a "feel good on the shelf" resource.