Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Book Review: Things That Go

(image taken from Amazon)

I read Things That Go tonight for the first time. Someone had given us a 3-pack of the Happy Baby books (we like the Happy Baby Animals book).

The construction of the book is great - nice padded covers, solid paperboard pages, bright colors, neat pictures, etc.

However, I have an issue with some of the content, as it could easily confuse a young child.

First off, a number of the cars are British - and the steering wheel is on the right side of the car, whereas other vehicles are American and the steering wheel is on the left side. That's pretty minor, but it's just the beginning.

There are two sections that feature trains (yay! trains). However, both prominently feature the sound, "choo, choo!" (one being in a 'what sound does this make' section). None of the trains pictured are steam engines (they're either electric or diesel). I don't know where these folks get off trying to teach my daughter that electric/diesel trains sound like steam engines. This isn't the 1920's.

The ambulance pictured has the word "police" prominently displayed, which is rather confusing, especially considering the fact the car next to it is labeled as "police car." Are they not both police cars?

The "Kids on the move" page is probably the most egregiously misleading section. All of the kids are obviously at rest. The skateboard guy's picture is blurred to make it look like he's moving, but the wheels are not blurred (it's standing still). The ice-skating girl isn't standing on ice. The snowboarding person looks like they are overdressed and is in a studio. And the cute little girl on the bike... her kickstand is down and is what is holding her up. The only positive note on this page is that everyone is wearing the appropriate safety gear (forgiving the ice skater not having the blade protectors on her skates).

The "Truck puzzle" page has a subtle right-handed bias. You're supposed to find the features in the pictures on one page in the bigger picture on the facing page. The three pictures that contain items that can be found on either the right or left side of the truck are all on the right side of the truck (from the truck's vantage). I worry about the psychological damage to left-handed children (which Simone might be).

The biking girl on the "How do I sound" page appears to actually be biking (or at least balancing) has am improperly set-up bike - her seat is way too low.

The last pages are a "Matching pairs" puzzle where you match the professional worker (builder, pilot, firefighter, astronaut) with the appropriate vehicle. The politically-correct terms are used, but all the professionals are male. Granted, the fields chosen are male-dominated, but they could have used a woman in one of the positions. Note: you cannot see the astronaut's face, but the picture is taken from the classic moon picture, and only men landed on the moon). Additionally, the astronaut is paired with a "space shuttle." There are several things wrong with this, first of all, all moon landings happened way before the space shuttle was even conceived. Secondly, the space shuttle pictured is an obvious model - it has X33 prominently displayed on the side and the model pictured is not even of the X33 design. Compounding the confusion is the fact that the X33 is an unmanned ship. The other space shuttle pictures were real, it is very disappointing the authors skimped on the last picture of the last page.

That being said, I did think the giant excavator and dump truck pictures on the "Construction site" pages were pretty cool. They're both of the really heavy duty variety. The dump truck is of the variety used in (icky) pit coal mines, and the excavator is just huge .

Overall, I found there to be way too many damaging elements to the book. I will continue to read the "animals" book, but this one may have to be shelved until Simone is more mature, perhaps 3 or 4 years old.

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