Got a kid that loves airplanes? I have finally decided to change my son’s “truck crazy” classification to “engine crazy,” because he is absolutely fascinated by any mechanical contraption he comes across. At 3 1/2 years old, this boy is at an age where he’s very particular about what he has read to him, in that it must have interesting pictures as well as interesting text. This can be difficult at times, mainly because text tends to get significantly less interesting as books evolve into the early reader stage. Since my son isn’t reading yet, that translates into a fine balancing act to get the right books.
In the past, I’ve viewed the Mighty Machines books as sure-fire winners. Sad to say, Airplanes by Mary Lindeen has changed this opinion of an otherwise great set of books.
This book explains the basics of the parts of an airplane, what they carry, and how passengers get on the plane. Usually, it’s all great stuff for a kid that loves airplanes. The actual story part of the book consists of 17 pages, which includes a text blurb and a picture on each two-page spread. At the end of the book is a glossary to help children understand and remember the things they’ve just learned.
One big drawback from my standpoint is that the text in this book has a lot of repetition and little substance. For example, “A jumbo jet has big jet engines. Jet engines help this jumbo jet fly.” This simplicity is no doubt intended to spur on early readers, but it limits the story while significantly limiting the number of readers who could benefit from the exercise. Even a kid who has been reading for just a short time is likely to get bored fast. For a child not yet learning to read, it was just plain too simplistic all around.
I was fairly impressed with about half of the pictures in this book. There are a few that do very well at showing off the airplane or jet, though there are plenty that even I had to look at twice. Even though I’ve personally gone through most of a pilot training course, and it was still difficult to identify their cockpit picture. It doesn’t show the pilot, or seats where pilots sit, or anything else to which a small child can relate. Instead, it shows the instrument panel and the front window with only solid white outside. A couple of pictures meant to show loading at the airport and the plane’s passengers were also a bit disappointing.
This glossary does have a few more words in it than most early readers, and more than the other books in this series that I have read. Included words are airport, cockpit, jet engines, jumbo jet, passenger, pilot, propeller, and runway. The explanations are simple and easy to understand for children who have seen things like airports, though some of the words took a bit of explaining for my son. He has never seen these things and so, in the absence of decent pictures in the books, had to rely heavily on imagination.
Overall, this book was a minor success for my son’s reading time. It didn’t keep his interest nearly as well as some of the other books in this series, but I’m pretty certain that the pictures were the reason for the fail. Early readers may get better mileage. Note that many of these books are listed for ages 8 and up, but most children will have outgrown them by then. They’re designed more for 5-year-olds.
If you’d still love to get your kids into the Mighty Machines books, definitely check out Bulldozers – my son is fascinated by construction sites and couldn’t put this one down. They have books for virtually every type of machine that a kid might see in everyday life, and they’re a great way to spark interest in the mechanical world.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Mighty Machines in any way, nor with the author of this particular book. My reviews are written only with my own views and opinions, and no one offered compensation or incentive for this to be written.