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4.0 out of 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars


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on 12 June 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What a great idea for a children's book: a look at how technology mimics nature, with examples from nature and technology presented in attractive drawings, photos and short explanatory text.

The book consists of a series of double-page spreads covering themes such as "stored energy" and "floating and buoyancy". Of course, it won't appeal to all children, but the right child should find it very engrossing.

On a more critical note, while the books lives up to the title "nature got there first", it falls rather short of establishing the link in its subtitle: "inventions inspired by nature". The book provides little to no evidence that any of the inventions it describes were, in fact, inspired by nature. I for one would be extremely surprised if the invention of the heart defibrillator were inspired by the electric eel, or if a dentist's probe were inspired by a Madagascan monkey's fingers, as is suggested here!

The layout of text boxes and pictures on the page also doesn't help in establishing which invention is supposed to be compared with which natural phenomenon. Graphical features such as scraps of notebook paper and rivetted metal plates are used to frame text without any obvious pattern to the choice.

There are also various statements that are misleading or inaccurate, such as "hand-held spray cans use a similar mechanism to the bombardier beetle's" - no they don't! Also, the hairs on a Venus flytrap don't really act much like electric light switches. The frequency of reflected ultrasound doesn't automatically change as a bat nears its target. A cheetah's claws aren't always extended (although it does lack claw sheaths). I could go on. They're all minor things, really, but poor in an educational book.

The level of vocabulary and assumed knowledge of physics also seems rather varied. Although there is a helpful glossary at the back, I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to include the explanation in the body of the book. Terms such as "arrestor wire" aren't in the glossary. "Ultrasound" is defined as "high frequency sound", but any child who understands the concept of acoustic frequency is likely to have come across the term "ultrasound" already.

These minor quibbles aside, this is fun and nicely produced book, which I would recommend to any child with a curiosity about the world.

"There is for a free man no occupation more worthy and delightful than to contemplate the beauteous works of nature and honour the infinite wisdom and goodness of God." - John Ray [1660]
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Nature got there first, or did it?
This book more than adequately shows that the forces of nature are great, and can often inspire some of the great things that man has produced.

The Book is targeted at younger children and as such it more than admirably does the job of inspiring them, My 9 year old boy loves the book and has even taken it in for show and tell.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a decent science book for kids that have an interest in science already. It attempts to make links between modern inventions and naturally occurring phenomena in nature. Sometimes the comparisons work well, sometimes they are slightly strained.

I doubt whether this is the book the spark a child into "getting" or loving science, but for those with enquiring minds who are already that way inclined it is a good addition to their book collections.

Its a good book, for the right child. I would say that ages 9-11 would be more interested than the nippers.
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on 22 August 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book looks at how technology mimics nature, attempting to link some modern inventions and the equivalent naturally occurring phenomena. It covers a series of topics like Gliding and Sailing, Floating and Buoyancy, Camouflage and warning signs, Light and heat sensing, Fastenings, Absorbing energy and Hydraulics and sometimes the comparisons work very well, and at other times, not so well. There are many examples presented in drawings, photos with a short explanatory text, and so in reality I am doing a lot of talking and discussing with my daughter. There are some concepts that she grasps easily, and others that will probably come with time.
This is a welcome addition to our library, that I enjoy reading as much as my daughter. In my opinion, this is different sort of book that will not be for everyone, but will definitely appeal to the right child.
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VINE VOICEon 19 September 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The biggest problem with this book is that it assumes a substantial amount of knowledge from the reader. While it is a very original and interesting concept - comparing human inventions to various aspects of the natural world - the book itself is presented slightly haphazardly, sometimes speaking on a childish level, and at others spekaing in a much more academic tone. As quite rightly pointed out in another review, the links between the inventions highlighted and their natural "inspirations" are often tenuous, and should be presented as interesting paralells as opposed to being cited as direct ancestors of human innovation. While certain children will still find the concepts explored intriguing, there is little here for a child without a degree of grounding in science, and the educational value is slightly dubious. Interesting but far from great.
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VINE VOICEon 30 September 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am a Chartered Engineer. I got this book to read with my eight year old nephew who is great at building models and Lego.

The book is very well illustrated and laid out. Easy to read with a good index.

One minor niggle as an enginner is the lack of detail and proof. This is why it only gets 4 stars.

I learnt quite a few things which made my bedtime reading with him interesting.

There were a few occassions where we went onto the internet the following day, to get a deeper explanation. This was great as it is teaching my nephew about research.

A nice book to dip into.
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on 6 August 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
An interesting book, well presented. I would have liked the book to have had more information in it, but enjoyed sharing with my children the information and pictures.

It is informative to children to see how we have copied natures solutions to solve our own design problems. Maybe man's inventions did not intentionally set out to copy nature, but the ideas certainly mimic nature.

The book helps to explain to children the natural world around them by using everyday objects they are familiar with ie the zip on their coat or velcro on their shoes.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I liked the 'nature got there first' facts and the comparisions between modern inventions and the natural world however I really disliked the illustrations and lay out of the book - although it's great to have a proper index in children's book. I note this book is an updated edition but the photos of people seemed to be 1970s, photos were duplicated in the book and for a book about nature it had a lot of drawn illustrations. If you compare this book to a modern documentary or children's book presentation this book seems antique. The lack of presumably updating the illustraions seemed lazy and at odds with the aim to get children interested in Science.

You can flick through some pages on the 'look inside this book' link. I'm no expert on mechanics but that looks like an old photo to me. How difficult is it to update with a photo of a modern car and engine?

Interesting for the facts but I don't think many 21st century children will thank you if they received this as a present.

It needs a complete illustration overhaul in my opinion.
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on 25 July 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an excellent book for the school library, or for children to use as reference for a project. It has lots of information and illustrations, so it's easy and interesting to browse through.

The illustrations are a combination of photos, drawings, paintings and cartoons which makes it visually lively, but also a bit scattered. My nieces enjoyed reading it but I think it would really appeal mostly to a budding young scientist, naturalist or zooologist.

There's not too much reading in there, and it's written in 'sound bite' style, but what there is is well written. I think it would appeal most to ages 8-12, although I have enjoyed reading it and learned quite a bit and I'm - er - older than that :-)

Recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 17 December 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My 8 yr old son enjoyed this book immensely. That being said I find some of its theories as to how nature inspired invention quite laughable and unbelieveable, like comparing a Madagascan monkey's fingers to a dental probe! It seems lacking in any real foundation in truth and so has little educational value.

It is however well presented and fun. Laid out a little like a comic with various framed snippets of informaton or pictures, that are somewhat randomly placed.

My son loves science and it is appealing in the sense that it gets your child to think, imagine and compare things in their surroundings, looking at things in a new and interesting way.

Read for fun.
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