Review Blog

Sep 27 2012

Australia's greatest inventions and innovations by Christopher Cheng and Linsay Knight

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Random House, 2012. ISBN 9781 742755649.
(Ages: 9+) Recommended. Non fiction. Inventions. Published in association with the Powerhouse Museum, this eye catching book is full of the most intriguing and fascinating pieces of information about our inventions and inventors to grab the most fastidious of readers. Boys will line up to peruse the book and pull out trivia to discuss with their friends, girls will use the book to cover questions asked in research assignments and the astute teacher will use the many stories to add magic to the classroom discussions. As a teacher librarian, one thing I was always asked for was a book about inventions, and here it is.
From the expected Vegemite, Penicillin and Sunshine Harvester, to the surprising, Dual Flush Toilet, Didgeridu and Plastic Banknotes, to the now unsurprisingly neglected Cafe Bar, each invention is given several pages of fascinating and broad ranging facts. Divided into sections, Communication, Health, Agriculture, Household, Energy and Environment, Leisure, Manufacturing, Trade and Research, each invention begins with a problem, then how the researchers tackled answering that problem, then the final result, with a side box of information about the inventor.
Spray-on skin, for example began with the problem of treating burns quickly and so reduce the probability of scarring. There follows several paragraphs about the work of Dr Fiona Wood, a plastic surgeon in Perth, who in the 1990's grew skin in the laboratory, and from there improved the skin to become a spray-on skin. She was awarded an Order of Australia medal for her work which is now used world wide.
This is a fabulously entertaining and informative book, one I have dipped in and out of for the weeks it has sat on my table, and one with a range of uses in the classroom and at home, rivaling the Guinness Book of Records.
Fran Knight

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