All four topics are of the moment and at least one subject is completely new: a SCRATCHbot is a robot rat that uses whiskers to feel its way around. It is used to help researchers study animals. Similarly formatted, the titles offer a wealth of interesting information, including the history and usefulness of each topic. A first look at the large type makes the books seem to be geared for a younger audience than they actually are. While this might be a slight deterrent to potential audiences, these series offerings are well worth consideration. The lively texts are complemented by myriad “Did You Know?” boxes and different colored pages of side information. Each book is peppered with clear, current photographs, useful websites, and complete indexes. Students do not need prior knowledge to appreciate these worthy titles.
School Library Journal, January 2011
Books in the ongoing A Great Idea series provide information about modern inventions, including their ongoing research and development. Each volume includes four chapters of discussion and sidebars, illustrated with clear color photos and followed by a glossary and a short list of books and/or Internet sites. At their best, the books provide fascinating glimpses of cutting-edge engineering. Seldom discussing disadvantages or ethical dilemmas that may arise from these technological advances, the writers focus on the technology and practical benefits of the inventions. Becoming Invisible traces the history of camouflage; looks at invisibility in stealth aircraft, films, and television today; considers current research into light and light-bending materials; and imagines future uses for invisibility technology. Pilotless Planes discusses the development and use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also called UAVs or drones, such as the Predator planes currently used by the U.S. Air Force. Looking beyond military uses, the last chapter also considers future public safety, environmental, and commercial applications. In SCRATCHbot, Woog introduces a small, rolling robot with prominent whiskers, used to mimic a rodent's ability to sense its surroundings through touch. Discussions include how inventors are inspired by nature and how this appealing robot might be useful. Presenting specific, current information, these books will appeal to young people intrigued by inventions.
Booklist, November 2010
Pilotless Planes explains the history of drones and how important they have become. Not only are these UAVs, unmanned aerial vehicles, extremely important to the military, but for meteorologists, marines scientists, seach and rescue missions, the fire department, border patrol, and maybe someday commercial airplanes. Photos and "Did you know?" segments throughout the book provide great insight into UAVs. The book also includes more books to read and websites to visit to find out more information on UAVs. Highly Recommended.
Arlington Independent School District, June 2011
This Great Idea series includes Becoming Invisible: From Camouflage to Cloaks; Pilotless Planes; HDTV: High Definition Television; and SCRATCHbot. These books discuss current technologies, the reasoning behind the development, and future possibilities. Excellent photographs, charts and explanations, Did You Know? facts, DVDs and Websites are provided to make these books a world of discovery. The larger font makes the book seem to be written for younger students, but the vocabulary and concepts discussed are aimed for upper elementary through middle school students. Readers who enjoy discovering unusual inventions will enjoy this series.
Garland Independent School District, June 2011