CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 14. . . . December 8, 2017
Ten titles comprise the "Get-into-It Guides" series which introduces readers to a variety of interests or hobbies. Most of the books begin with a brief history of the featured topic, followed by a list of supplies needed for the activity. The majority of each title is devoted to the "how to" of the activity itself, with basic step-by-step instructions. As the books unfold, more complicated steps are added as well as variations on the specific theme. Some of the series topics lend themselves well to a “guidebook” style format, but others are best learned from watching a video or an expert in the field. And really, who needs a book about smoothies? Children in the target audience age group can certainly follow a recipe from a cookbook or the internet and ask their parents to help them chop up fruits and vegetables and to teach them how to use a blender. There are plenty of text boxes, including one entitled "Did You Know?" which provides topic-related trivia. Though the series is designed for elementary school children, the vocabulary varies too much from the simple to the more advanced, and some of the explanations are just too complicated for the target audience. The text is enhanced with abundant illustrations, but the loud, vivid colours and the busy and crowded layout of the books sometimes have a jarring effect. A table of contents, a glossary and a brief list of books and websites (some of which have videos) are included.
Get into Claymation is a book for the very patient and determined youngster who is interested in creating a Claymation movie. In this title, the author takes readers from the initial planning stages of writing a story and creating a storyboard to the shooting of the film, adding a soundtrack and credits, and setting up a screening once the film has been completed. There is information on how to create human and animal characters out of styrofoam and modelling clay, how to show movement, and sets, props and lighting. Readers can try four different projects: a special effect known as morphing which changes one image into another seamlessly; an “energizer pavilion” which transforms a slow character into a faster one; flying and falling animation; and disappearing effects.
Magic had its origins in ancient Egypt almost 5,000 years ago. Though its popularity waned with the advent of cinema, the 1970s ushered in a new era in stage magic, as evidenced by the popularity of such magicians as Penn and Teller and David Copperfield, and today, street magicians such as David Blaine and Criss Angel have taken magic to the next level. Get into Magic features the principles of magical effects- sleight of hand, misdirection, teleportation, production (making something appear), vanishing, restoration, transformation, levitation, escapology and prediction. There are step-by-step tricks, complete with accompanying photographs, to illustrate some of these techniques. Also included is information about clothing and props, the magician’s “patter” (talking to the audience about what he or she is doing), and the Magician’s Oath, a code of silence, taken very seriously among magicians not to reveal to non-magicians how tricks are done.
Endless possibilities exist is the creation of mixed media projects. Artists can combine a variety of techniques and materials (even natural and recycled materials) to create an original artwork In Get into Mixed Media readers will learn about the color wheel, background surfaces-canvas, burlap and various types of paper, painting styles- wet on wet, wet on dry, impasto (using thick paint and a tool to create a 3-D effect), sgraffito (scratching a design through black paint to reveal other colours underneath), sponge-dab and others, collage types, and stencils and stamps. Projects include an inspirational quote poster, a sgraffito picture, a portrait using magazine images, patterned paper and paint, a glass bottle vase, and an abstract painting. There is also a recipe for papier maché.
Get into Smoothies shows the health benefits of these drinks and their ingredients, and how to do the prep work and use a blender. There is a specific order in putting foods and liquids into the blender for optimal results. Over 20 recipes are provided, but not all ingredients will be readily available in most households, and an adult’s participation and/or supervision is required. As mentioned in the opening paragraph of the review, this title is not necessary to this series. Generally, this is a fairly good series, but there is inconsistency among the titles.
Recommended with Reservations.
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.