Revved Up | Technology Series Nonfiction

We’ve pulled together loads of series full of things that go (and plenty of wildcard fun, including profiles of some of the biggest names in tech) to slake the thirst of those eager young explorers at your library.

Maybe it’s the two long years of pandemic under our belts, but it seems like people are itchin’ to hit the road hard. All this people-moving gives young readers more opportunities to get curious about the methods of transportation. Whether they’re traveling via plane, train, automobile, or rocketship (“shoot for the moon—even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!”), they rely on careful engineering and testing to transport them safely to their destination. Perhaps that’s why this season’s offerings are so movement heavy—everybody’s longing to get gone (even if that means colonizing Mars). So let us take you on a journey, facilitated by the vehicle of imagination! We’ve pulled together loads of series full of things that go (and plenty of wildcard fun, including profiles of some of the biggest names in tech) to slake the thirst of those eager young explorers at your library.



Amstutz, Lisa J. The Gearhead’s Guide to ATVs. ISBN 9781666356649.
––––. The Gearhead’s Guide to BMX Bikes. ISBN 9781666356595.
––––. The Gearhead’s Guide to Choppers. ISBN 9781666356540.
––––. The Gearhead’s Guide to Dirt Bikes. ISBN 9781666356397.
––––. The Gearhead’s Guide to Go-Karts. ISBN 9781666356441.
––––. The Gearhead’s Guide to Stock Cars. ISBN 9781666356496.
ea vol: 32p. (Gearhead Guides). Capstone/Spark. Aug. 2022. Tr. $29.32.
Gr 2-4 –Bright, exciting photos and engaging text shine in this standout series. Surrounded by plenty of white space, the text of each book focuses on modifications that may be necessary to enhance the comfort and/or performance of the different kinds of racing vehicles. In the books where readers might actually own one of the vehicles (like BMX bikes, dirt bikes, and go-karts), Amstutz uses a relatable mod “suggestion” style of writing that encourages readers to upgrade their own gears. This is an interesting concept that would work even ­better if the websites listed in back included instructional guides on how to make the mods. For vehicles like choppers and stock cars, the author focuses on what racers and their pit crews do to ensure the machines perform at their peak. The writing itself is both informational and casual in a way that readers will find inherently trustworthy. Overall, these are good picks for most libraries. VERDICT A first purchase series.

Barnham, Kay. Machines at Sea. ISBN 9781538277553.
––––. Machines in Space. ISBN 9781538277591.
––––. Machines in the Sky. ISBN 9781538277638.
––––. Machines on Land. ISBN 9781538277676.
ea vol: 32p. (Engineering Power!). Rosen/Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2022. Tr. $27.60.
Gr 2-4 –The history and evolution of travel is introduced to readers through a familiar format in this series. Each book is filled with illustrations that are labeled to indicate the unique features of the machines and that diagram concept is supported by interesting engineering callouts about their designs. In Machines in the Sky and Machines on Land, Barnham goes with a simple-to-complex organizational scheme that brings readers from hot-air balloons to drones, bicycles to mega machines. Machines at Sea notably does a good job describing how complex engineering like hovercraft and hydrofoils work. With the feel of a simplified Stephen Biesty or David Macaulay book, this series delivers a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time, utilizing cutaways, labels, and informational asides to offer a high level of detail despite the somewhat simplified illustrations. VERDICT An additional purchase, but one that’s sure to see good circulation.

Brinker, Spencer. Communication. ISBN 9781636917719.
Carlson Berne, Emma. School. ISBN 9781636917726.
––––. Toys and Games. ISBN 9781636917733.
––––. Transportation. ISBN 9781636917740.
ea vol: 24p. (Past and Present). Bearport/Bearcub Books. Aug. 2022. Tr. $26.99.
K-Gr 2 –For readers who look at their caregiver’s cell phone and wonder what we did before that was invented, this series is a hit. Each book talks through a very basic narrative history of each item, sharing how it has evolved over time. In Communication, readers learn that the first people shared stories through pictures, moving to written language in time. They may be surprised by the huge time span that followed and amazed at how it led to the constant contact age of today. Toys and Games is also pretty fun, with play evolving from carved wooden trinkets to complicated, codable robots. The simplified text makes these books ideal for evolving readers as well as educators to use during circle and storytime. With bright pictures and large print, it’s an interesting, unique series that hits the mark. VERDICT A first purchase for libraries with readers obsessed with invention.

Grack, Rachel. Curious about Dragsters. ISBN 9781645491149.
––––. Curious about Hot Rods. ISBN 9781645491156.
––––. Curious about Indy Cars. ISBN 9781645491163.
––––. Curious about Lowriders. ISBN 9781645491170.
––––. Curious about Monster Trucks. ISBN 9781645491187.
––––. Curious about Stock Cars. ISBN 9781645491194.
ea vol: 24p. (Curious about Cool Rides). Amicus/Curious About. Jul. 2022. Tr. $34.25.
PreS-Gr 2 –Following a readable question and answer format, this series fills readers in on all the basics of the coolest, fastest cars on the planet. Infographic-style sections throughout each book share information visually, relaying anything from the different stunts a monster truck can do in Monster Trucks to what the different colors and patterns of racing flags mean in Dragsters. Perhaps the coolest moment is when Grack notes the importance of lowriders in Mexican culture, with the accompanying photos reflecting that cultural focus. The back-and-forth feel of the writing has a personable tone that allows information to be delivered with casual ease. Readers are encouraged to stay curious, suggesting ways to evaluate the text and photos to identify more questions they can ask, then directing them where to search for answers once their interest has been piqued. VERDICT A first purchase series for all libraries.

James, Ryan. Concept Cars. ISBN 9781638974710.
––––. Driverless Cars. ISBN 9781638974758.
––––. Muscle Cars. ISBN 9781638974727.
––––. Race Cars. ISBN 9781638974734.
––––. Sports Cars. ISBN 9781638974703.
––––. Tuner Cars. ISBN 9781638974741.
ea vol: 24p. (Car Mania). Crabtree/Seahorse. Sept. 2022. Tr. $27.93.
Gr 2-4 – For readers seeking cars on the cutting edge, look no further than this extreme series. Each book walks through the history and evolution of the automobiles, moving from their earliest days to a look toward the future. In Concept Cars, readers learn quite a bit about the engineering and modeling process that brings the innovative designs from big dreams to car show floors. Driverless cars have made enormous strides since the invention of computerized engines—where early models were piloted by radio control, the newest models can be enjoyed with little to no driver intervention. Muscle cars and tuner cars are known for their macho designs and ­powerful engines, while race cars and sports cars are just as powerful, but boast more streamlined designs. While the photos are flashy, the accompanying text is clear and detailed, making it ideal for its audience. VERDICT A first purchase.

Kelly, Miranda. Cars Go! ISBN 9781039660113.
Morris, Harold. Planes Go! ISBN 9781039660120.
––––. Trucks Go! ISBN 9781039660144.
Walker, Alan. Ships Go! ISBN 9781039660137.
ea vol: 24p. (My First Transportation Books). Crabtree/Crabtree Seedlings. Sept. 2022. Tr. $27.93.
PreS-Gr 1 –Filled with colorful photos and supported with simple text ideal for evolving readers, this series has all the makings of a circle and storytime favorite. The vivid, glossy photos support the text, offering helpful contextual clues to the unfamiliar words. They include simplified descriptions of all kinds of different vehicles, with plenty of examples of the various ways each can look, like cruise ships, icebreakers, and aircraft carriers, so readers understand that the same word can be attached to more than one object. While it’s easier to see the motion of a gigantic icebreaker smashing through frozen seas, the many included photos of various types of planes, trucks, and cars all manage to maintain a sense of motion and speed. A photo glossary and teacher/caregiver support at the end of each makes them an exemplary first reader series. VERDICT A well-done first purchase series.

Loy, Harriet. An Airplane’s Day. ISBN 9781644876596.
––––. A Bulldozer’s Day. ISBN 9781644876619.
Rathburn, Betsy. A Backhoe’s Day. ISBN 9781644876602.
––––. A Dump Truck’s Day. ISBN 9781644876626.
Schell, Lily. A Fire Truck’s Day. ISBN 9781644876633.
––––. A Tractor’s Day. ISBN 9781644876640.
ea vol: illus. by Mike Byrne. 24p. (Machines at Work). Blastoff! Missions/ Bellwether/Blastoff! Missions. Aug. 2022. Tr. $$26.95.
PreS-Gr 2 –Teetering on the line of narrative nonfiction and pure nonfiction, this series features a cute illustrated astronaut named “Blastoff Jimmy” who leads readers through the books. The illustrations are adorable, filled with helpful labels that give readers an image to marry with the new vocabulary words they’re picking up. The illustrations feature a beautifully diverse cast of workers who are all smiling and happy to be doing their jobs using their complex machines. Glossary terms are highlighted throughout the text and then defined at the end so as not to distract from the narrative. Libraries that purchase this series might find themselves debating where to place it: is it truly nonfiction or not? Regardless of that neverending debate, readers will happily scoop up the books and hungrily devour their content, so put them somewhere they’ll find their match. VERDICT A first purchase series.

Pettiford, Rebecca. Backhoes. ISBN 9781636908434.
––––. Bulldozers. ISBN 9781636908465.
––––. Concrete Mixers. ISBN 9781636908526.
––––. Cranes. ISBN 9781636908496.
––––. Diggers. ISBN 9781636908557.
––––. Rollers. ISBN 9781636908588.
ea vol: 24p. (Construction Zone). Jump!/Bullfrog Books. Aug. 2022. Tr. $26.99.
PreS-Gr 1 –This addition to the imprint is ideal for readers who love big construction site behemoths. Bright, vivid photos illustrate the basic text, allowing readers to use context clues to decipher more difficult words. Images of bright orange mixers pouring concrete and rollers smoothing asphalt road surfaces coordinate perfectly with the phrases on the page. In fact, the limited text and illustrative photos make this series perfect for use in circle and storytimes, giving them extended use for educators. The glossy photos allow readers and listeners alike to appreciate the full size and scope of the gigantic cranes, bulldozers, and diggers. Each book concludes with a simplified, labeled picture of its highlighted vehicle and a photo glossary. Filled with repetition of key words and basic text, this series is perfect for evolving readers. ­ VERDICT A first purchase for school and public libraries alike.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Goldstein, Margaret J. The Genius of Amazon. ISBN 9781728440811.
––––. The Genius of Apple. ISBN 9781728440828.
––––. The Genius of Google. ISBN 9781728440842.
––––. The Genius of Microsoft. ISBN 9781728440835.
Mann, Dionna L. The Genius of Facebook. ISBN 9781728440804.
––––. The Genius of Tesla. ISBN 9781728440798.
ea vol: 32p. (Tech Titans). Lerner. Aug. 2022. Tr. $30.65.
Gr 4-6 –This useful series about the biggest names in tech is sure to have utility for report writers. Each book explains the origins and evolution of the startup companies, including a bit of biographical content about their creators and leaders. Some of the books might surprise readers, as the names synonymous with the companies aren’t responsible for their creation, like Elon Musk and Tesla. Each book also discusses the future of its eponymous company as they continue to strive to not only improve the lives of their consumers, but also the planet. Microsoft, for instance, has plans to be carbon negative soon! It’s helpful that these titles don’t skirt the many controversies surrounding the companies, like Facebook’s ties to 2020 election ­misinformation and Elon Musk’s problematic tweets that got him in hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC). Though the straightforward writing isn’t particularly exciting, it is thorough and well researched. VERDICT An additional purchase.


Upper Middle School to High School

Gagne, Tammy. Colonizing Mars. ISBN 9781678204266.
Layton, Christine Marie. Beyond the Solar System. ISBN 9781678204242.
Moon, Walt K. Rockets and Space Travel. ISBN 9781678204327.
Toth, Henrietta. Robotics in Space. ISBN 9781678204303.
Wolny, Philip. Living in Space. ISBN 9781678204280.
ea vol: 64p. (Space Exploration). ReferencePoint/BrightPoint. Sept. 2022. Tr. $32.95.
Gr 6 Up –Marketed as hi-lo books for teen readers, this series delivers a sizable serving of information with an unwelcome side helping of conjecture. Each starts with a bulleted “At a Glance” list, providing an outline for readers that goes deeper than a traditional table of contents. What follows is a short fictional account of future possibilities. This is fun, but unfortunately not made clear in almost every instance. The foot we start off on steps inexplicably toward misinformation, which is not ideal. The remainder of the content is drily written, but contains accurate details. For example, Colonizing Mars and Living in Space both discuss the challenges of sustainably colonizing a new planet, with lots of details about terraforming, farming and harvesting food, and recycling water and air. Though this information is sound, it’s hard to recommend a nonfiction series that starts off each book with a dollop of ­fiction. VERDICT Not recommended.

Just like an unforgettable vacation, the machine and vehicle books this season will truly leave an indelible mark on their readers. “Car Mania” (Crabtree) and “Gearhead Guides” (Capstone) are sure to capture the attention of older audiences with their fixation on innovation, design, and uniquity. “Construction Zone,” (Jump!), “My First Transportation” (Crabtree), and “Machines at Work” (Bellwether) are perfect for beginners who are just learning to explore their love for mighty machines through research and reading. “Curious about Cool Rides” (Amicus) is certain to raise some interesting questions, putting readers on a road leading right back to the library. Might as well get those shelves stocked up for their next pit stop!

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