A World of Discovery by James Brown and Richard Platt

A World of Discovery introduces pre-teens to the basics of technology and invention.

A World of Discovery by James Brown and Richard Platt. Candlewick Studio, 2019, 63 pages.

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 7-12

Every technology we take for granted had to be “discovered”—usually by necessity followed by invention, but not always. The need for wheels seems obvious but the reason some cultures never got around to making them is that they’re very hard to make (ever try drawing a perfectly round circle?). The technology for making the technology had to come first. Penicillin, on the other hand, had been around in the form of bread mold for millennia before—almost by accident—a practical use was found in fighting bacterial diseases. The simple act of making fire was a revolutionary step forward, the chief benefit of which (according to evolutionary theory), was in killing the bacteria in meat so humans could safely eat it and live longer. (How they lived long enough to evolve is another question.)

From timekeeping to computer chips, from aviation to space exploration, from fire to nuclear fission, the “world of discovery” is pretty well covered here. Each receives a double-page spread with a little history, a little science/tech, and special-interest sidebars. The oversize pages and layout make for easy browsing. There’s not as much detail as in David Macauley’s books, but could be a good lead-in to The Way Things Work for kids who want to discover further.

Overall Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Artistic/literary value: 4.25
  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5

Considerations:

  • There’s an evolutionary bias, but it’s not too intrusive.

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Janie

Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.

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