HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Machines at Work
Author and Illustrator: Byron Barton
Publisher: HarperFestival, republished in 1997
ISBN-13: 978-0694001903 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0694001902 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0694011070 (Board book)
ISBN-10: 069401107X (Board book)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 3-8
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Barton, Byron. Machines at Work (published in 1987 by HarperCollins). We had two boys, and boys especially like to read about dump trucks, bulldozers, cranes, cement trucks, and such like. Author and illustrator Byron Barton, who has also done books on Trains, Trucks, Planes, Boats, and Building a House, takes youngsters through an entire day at a construction site. This award-winning book is not just a catalogue of heavy equipment. With the call of ‘Hey, you guys! Let’s get to work,’ the workers, a multiracial group of men and women, arrive and begin their day. They shoulder drills and picks, operate cranes and cement mixers, and use their equipment to bulldoze and steamroll.
The machines shown are not named, but their functions are described. On this particular day, the workers knock down a building, bulldoze trees, dump rubble, take a lunch break, erect a building, and build a road. Then the text says, “More work tomorrow.” Each dynamic spread, with short, simple narrative, consisting mostly of instructions to the workers, and illustrations characterized by bold, black outlines and vivid colors, shows people and machines actively working. Another reviewer said, “If you’ve a kid who likes machines that go vroom and boom, it’s hard to find fault with this book.”