Reviewed by Mary
Discovery Channel: Speed Machines is an iBook by Miles Kelly Publishing – a independent children’s book publisher based in Essex, England. This iBook is based on their print book “Inside Speed Machines”, which is part of the ‘Explore Your World” series produced in conjunction with the Discovery Channel. This book is all about vehicles that have been built to satisfy man’s desire to go faster and to create new speed records of all kinds. The iBook feels just like you are reading a high quality children’s visual encyclopedia, but with the added dimension of the interactive 3D models, videos and slideshows.
Each vehicle’s section starts with a description and a full-page, high quality photo of the vehicle in action. The rest of the section has the feel of a bulletin board with various things pinned onto it, these include: artwork, videos, slideshows, 3D models, fast facts, “look closer” and “whatever next?” The artwork is very detailed, often spread over 2 full pages, with cutouts and labels explaining the vehicles structure. The slide show and videos can be viewed in their small windows or expanded to full screen. The “look closer” section explains a concept, or how part of the vehicle works in more detail. It covers a huge range of topics from relative speed, through hydroplaning, air pressurization, and the technical aspects of how a DOHC engine, a Pantograph or an altimeter work. When explaining how the technologies work, a labeled diagram accompanies the written explanation. Tapping on the label will zoom in on that part, and give more information on how it works. The 3D models rotate around and you can move them in any orientation you want, really allowing you to see the vehicle from every possible angle. “Whatever next?” discusses technologies that are being developed, and what the future may hold for these types of vehicles.
The book covers not only fast cars, but motorcycles, trains, boats, helicopters and planes too. This book is recommended for age 10+, it is a great book for that age range but I think that slightly younger children and many adults would enjoy it also. It includes a huge amount of information and is not narrated, so the child does need to be a proficient reader, or have an adult read it to them, to get the most from the book. My eight-year old loves the book, he has been having great fun exploring it and learning all about the different vehicles and technologies. His favorite parts are the 3D models and videos, my favorite is the ‘look closer” – I’m even learning things from it!!
Overall, a fantastic resource for older children who are interested in vehicles and technology. It has a huge amount of information presented in a colorful and engaging manner. The photographs and artwork are beautiful, and the interactive elements do a great job of keeping the child’s interest. I think it would also be a great way to get a reluctant reader, with an interest in vehicles, engaged and learning about the technology behind them. Highly recommended for ages 8+
Requirements: Compatible with iPad, requires iBooks 2 and iOS 5.0 or later.
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A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
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