Great Books for Hands-on Readers

Books with parts that pop up, lift out and unfold appeal to inquisitive minds and invite you to take a look.

David A. Carter’s If You’re a Robot and You Know It (Cartwheel Books; $16.99; ages 3+) revamps the familiar song for this “futuristic pop-up book” where moving the tabs allows the robot to stomp its feet, jump, beep, stretch its limbs and fly away.




The Ultimate Pirate Handbook by Libby Hamilton, Mathieu Leyssene and Jason Kraft (Templar Books; $19.99; ages 5-8) sports half-a-dozen of the world’s best-known pirates — including Sir Francis Drake and Blackbeard — in a three-dimensional rogues,’ or at least adventurers,’ gallery. The rest of the book is a comprehensive and clever account of life onboard a pirate ship, which was remarkably democratic. Booty was split among the crew, and they all had to be top-notch sailors to follow the four-O rules: outsail, out- fright, outwit and outfight their prey. The outrageous outfits, which provide an eyeful of illustration in the book, were part of the fright or disarming intention. Eyepatches helped pirates when they went into the dark spaces below decks; they switched their eyepatches to the other eye and used the dark-adjusted eye to see better.



Emergency Vehicles by Rod Green ( Templar Books; $15.99; ages 5-9) starts with a modern patrol car that has auto- matic license plate recognition equipment on the roof, cameras at the front and back and a system called BlueNet that uses long-distance recognition and computer interaction to alert the officer to cars or people of interest. These advanced cars hail from Victoria, Australia, but anyone present during the Pope’s Philadelphia visit will know that surveil- lance and crowd control are a standard part of police procedure these days. Other vehicles in this highly informative book full of flaps that reveal hidden information and interior views include fire-fighting aircraft, submarines, a fireboat, a helicopter ambu- lance and a car ambulance. 



David Macaulay, famous author of How Things Work and its sequels, goes downmarket (age wise) with How Machines Work: Zoo Break! (DK Books; $19.99; ages 7-10), an explanation of simple machines — the wheel and axle, lever, wedge, pulley, inclined plane and screw. Mon- keys Sloth and Sengi use these devices as they try to maneuver their way out of the zoo. The front cover boasts the most complex machine in the book — a pulley system for ascending into the trees — while inside the book the tabs, pull-ups and small inserted books show the objects from other perspectives, explain the mechanisms or demonstrate how they work.



Build! A Knight’s Castle by Annalie Seaman and illustrated by Charlie Simpson and Rob Turpin (Storey Books; $12.95; ages 8+) includes sheets of removable slotted struc- tures to make a castle and populate it with knights and armor. Using the conceit of an archeological dig, the book starts with information about medieval times and castle living and how we know what their lives were like . The thick cardboard sheets pop off the page to give the intrepid archeologist or engineer an absorbing project in history building.





History of Women’s Fashion, illustrated by Sanna Mander (Big Picture Press; $17.99; all ages) folds out to reveal six-and-a-half feet of pictures of women’s apparel from the 20th and 21st centuries. With descrip- tions of each garment on the back, the long foldout can be read like a book and makes an impressive display of the variety and development of fashion. The book provides a rich history of women’s apparel throughout the last century and roots each fashion in its time.

Frank Lipsius is a contributing writer to MetroKids.

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Categories: Book Reviews