Technology: A Byte-Size World

The Basher Science series has a new addition released this month: Technology: A byte-size world! by Dan Green and illustrator/author Simon Basher. This installment tackles machines, from simple to complex, and the materials that are used to create them.

You are probably already familiar with the Basher Science series, but if not, each topic generally consists of a two-page spread with illustrator/author Simon Basher’s unique cartoon illustrations that have the flavor of Japanese chibi on the right side and the text discussion on the left side. The text follows a formula of three bullet factoids, a paragraph or two of kicky first-person narrative about the topic with a few groan-worthy puns thrown in, and then three more bullet points.

As you might expect, this brief-and-flashy formula works better for some topics than others. Still, the kid-friendly tone of the characters and lack of density of the text entices struggling or jaded readers to give it a try, which is the book’s -and the series’- real strength. Once readers are drawn in, they will likely want more information on inventions such as such as a 3-D printer or a particle accelerator. Even though the brevity sometimes is frustrating, I have to admit that I often learn something new from these books. Did you know that rockets need to carry oxygen with them in order to fire in space? How about that rack-and-pinion steering was not patented until 1975?

Technology: A byte-size world is a byte-size introduction to the world of invention. For readers looking for something unique and refreshing, it will be a treat.

Note: This version comes with a detachable poster.

Other Basher book reviews:
Punctuation: The Write Stuff
Oceans: Making Waves!
Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction!

For more information, be sure to visit the Basher Books website.

Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Kingfisher (July 17, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0753468204
ISBN-13: 978-0753468203

More books from the Basher series:


The book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction

Do you know a child who is interested in science but finds the traditional nonfiction books a bit too tame and lame? Looking for something a little edgy with a bite of humor (“You have to keep your ‘Ion’ this bunch…”)? Then you might want to take a look at the Basher series science books. chemistry-basher

Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction! by Dan Green and Simon Basher is not written like a textbook. It is organized more like a reference book, such as a dictionary or an encyclopedia. The different terms/concepts are developed as characters. The sections are written in the first person from that character’s point of view, and each section stands on its own. For example, Acid says, “I’m mad, I’m bad, and thoroughly dangerous to know. Given a chance I’ll eat away Metal and burn through your skin.” (In case you wondered, all characters’ names are capitalized.)

As with Punctuation: The Write Stuff, each character has an accompanying illustration to show what it would look like. The illustrations appear to have roots in Japanese chibi; they are cute and brightly colored, such as the bright orange character in the center of the cover, which represents “Combustion.” These images really help visual learners remember details about what the terms mean. The symbolism of the illustrations works more clearly for some concepts than others, probably because of the complex nature of the topic.

I like that Green chose to include organic materials like esters, found in ingredient lists on labels of common products. The section on “Smart Materials” is fascinating. It inspired me to look up more and write a blog article about them.

The overall organization of material, however, is not as strong as it could be. Why did Green add a discussion of the elements carbon and nitrogen at the very end of the book, after a discussion of complex molecules like proteins that are made up of those elements? He also talked about enzymes, which are basically proteins, well before defining and discussing proteins.

Organizational flaws aside, this book would be useful for the child that needs to brush up on chemistry terminology or who has struggled with chemistry presented in a more traditional way. The concepts are really shaken up and given a lively new twist, which makes them fresh and interesting.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Kingfisher (July 6, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0753464136
ISBN-13: 978-0753464137

Basher Science: Chemistry: Getting a Big Reaction

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In this video, you can see some of the other books offered in this series.


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Anastasia Suen’s Nonfiction Monday blog. This week’s post is at Playing By The Book.

This book was provided for review.

Punctuation: The Write Stuff – A Basher Book Review

Although Punctuation: The Write Stuff is written by Mary Budzik, it is definitely part of illustrator and designer Simon Basher’s unique series of books. Punctuation-simon-basherBasher books are edgy, with a sting of humor and a mountain of creativity, and this book is no exception.

The text is written in a light, conversational tone. The punctuation marks are characters who often introduce themselves to the reader, speaking in first person. Possessive Apostrophe (the character on the front cover) says, “When I get ahold of something, that’s that- you don’t get rid of me.” At the bottom of each page are reminders of things to do (and not to do) with that particular punctuation mark. What an excellent way to reinforce learning!

The illustrations feature sweet figures that appear to have roots in Japanese chibi. The characters have a lot of visual clues as to how that particular form of punctuation works. For example, the list-making comma has a list in its hand and a line of commas in its tool belt.

For the student who may not quite grasp grammar yet, this refreshing approach might be exactly what’s needed to bring clarity. The creative illustrations are absolutely fantastic for visual learners. It would also be a wonderful book for the child who simply wants a quick review of the basics from time to time.

In the back, the book shows off its educational roots with a summary of eight different parts of speech and some questions to test comprehension. There is also an index and a three page glossary. Even better, each book comes with a poster of the various characters that acts as reference for study at a glance.

If you are looking for an educational reference about punctuation that’s packed with kid appeal, then this is a book to consider.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: Kingfisher; Pap/Pstr edition (July 6, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0753464209
ISBN-13: 978-0753464205

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This video shows some of the other books available. You might be able to spot the author’s British roots.

This book was a review copy.