________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005


Switched On, Flushed Down, Tossed Out: Investigating the Hidden Workings of Your Home.

Trudee Romanek. Illustrated by Stephen MacEachern.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2005.
48 pp., pbk. & cl., $14.95 (pbk.), $24.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55037-902-X (pbk.), ISBN 1-55037-903-8 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Domestic engineering-Juvenile literature.
Dwellings-Electrical equipment-Juvenile literature.
Refuse and refuse disposal-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Linda Ludke.

***½ /4



Turning one tap makes cold water rush out of the faucet, but turning the other brings hot water OUT OF THE VERY SAME FAUCET!QUESTIONS:
What heats the water? What stops the hot water in the pipe from heating up the cold water that's there too?

Perhaps agents have miniature laboratories hidden under every kitchen and bathroom sink! The steam given off by secret experiments conducted there might be what heats the water.


 Casey is curious about all the "strange things" going on in his house. He thinks there must be a network of spies who are responsible for making the lights come on and sending water through the taps. He launches "Operation Discovery" and investigates the inner workings of furnaces, sewage systems and air conditioners.

     The information is organized into 16 "Case Files.” The clever page layout resembles a file folder with newspaper clippings, Post-It notes and pamphlets tucked inside. Each double-page spread explores a question: "How does the electric power get to the lights and everything else?";"What is insulation?"; "How do pictures of people performing end up inside my TV?" The answers are written in clear, easy-to-understand language. Colourful cartoon illustrations show Casey and his family learning from experts such as plumbers, electricians and sanitation workers. Diagrams and cross sections of hot water tanks, dripping faucets and the "smell trap" of a toilet help to explain concepts.

     A museum flyer illustrates household artifacts from the early 1900's, such as a Stool Shower ("a wooden contraption that sat in a bathtub of water") and an icebox (a "cupboard that was lined with tin or zinc to hold in the cold air"). A concluding chapter, called "Agents of Tomorrow," speculates on what homes of the future may look like. Readers will be intrigued by the reports of companies in Japan who have developed toilets that automatically lift their lid when you walk into a room, and the researchers in Singapore who have developed a treatment system to make water from the sewer clean enough to drink. A bibliography with suggestions for further reading is also included.

     This well-designed science book is perfect for answering those challenging "How does it work?" questions.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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