Review Blog

Nov 26 2012

Australia's Greatest Inventions and Innovations by Christopher Cheng and Linsay Knight

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In association with the Powerhouse Museum, Random House Australia, 2012. Pbk., 184pp., RRP $A24.95. ISBN 9781742755649.
Most of us of a certain age (or a little bit less) know that Australians have been responsible for giving the world the Hills Hoist, Victa lawnmower, Vegemite and the black-box flight recorder. But did you know that we are also responsible for things like ultrasound, the staysharp knife, the stump-jump plough and the super sopper? In this fabulous book by Chris Cheng and Linsay Knight in association with the Powerhouse Museum, we are introduced to a much wider range of inventions and innovations than we would normally be in books with a more international focus. The baby safety capsule, the dual-flush toilet and the means to a good cup of coffee have all come from Australian brains.
Apart from bringing us a wider range of inventions, many of which are available to view at the Powerhouse Museum, the format of this book is perfect for the younger researcher, both as an information source and a model for their own research reports. Each entry starts with the problem such as 'To find a way of treating burns quickly so that they have a better chance of healing with as little scarring as possible' and continues with easy-to-read information about the invention/innovation, how it works and who was behind it. There are keywords and brilliant diagrams and photos to add to the understanding, all delivered in way that is accessible to those with a non-scientific bent. Chris Cheng has clearly used his knowledge of what kids want and Linsay Knight, her knowledge of non-fiction for children to combine to produce a book that is just right for its audience.
Just last week I was looking at the 608 section of a particular library and seeing resources that were there 10-15 years ago and thinking 'Someone needs to do something new, something that will reflect the sort of format that students demand and which looks at more modern inventions' and lo and behold, this marvellous book was waiting in my letterbox to be reviewed!!! It is superb and more than worthy of a place on your library shelf.
I bought Miss 8 and Mr 6 an annual pass to the Powerhouse Museum for their birthdays, so you know where my copy is going. They love going there so can you imagine how they will be able to use this book next time they go, seeing the objects and then learning their history?
Barbara Braxton

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