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Save the Crash-test Dummies

Author: Jennifer Swanson
Lower Age: 8
Upper Age: 12
Year Added: 2019

Save the Crash-Test Dummies by Jennifer Swanson is a hardcover book for children ages 8 and up. This book does a great job of introducing kids to the world of cars and what goes on behind making one. They will eventually grow up and learn how to drive one but is only learning how to drive enough? Not really. They’ll need to understand how it works in order to be able to handle a crisis situation. They need to know where the engine and other parts are located and understand how they work, so when a piston head goes through the hood they understand more than “Thing go bang. Car no work.”

The author has done a wonderful job by dividing the book into two parts: “What Makes a Car Go” and “What Makes a Car Safe”. She gives a brief introduction about parts like the engine, battery, transmission, and fuel tank in the first part and talks about the importance of parts like crumple-zone, seat-belts, and air-bags in the second part. The best way to understand why something is vital is to delve into its history and learn about its origin, and so the book starts by talking about how the first car was designed. “Dummies” played a major role in this. In order to understand if the vehicle was safe to drive, it had to be tested and the lives of humans could not be risked. Hence, crash-test dummies were made, which were designed to look and crash like humans in order to understand which body parts were most affected by car crashes. This was required in order to improve upon the safety features of the vehicle and make it more safe. The author has beautifully transitioned from how the first car was designed to how they are today today. Kids get to learn about the evolution of vehicles and how much the world has changed.

The book talks in detail about some physics concepts such as friction and how brakes apply that concept in order to slow down a vehicle. It could stop there, but it goes on to explain the different mechanisms behind hydraulic, drum and disc brakes with elaborate working diagrams. It helps one learn how each of them solves the same problem in different ways and understand why they are an integral part of a vehicle. Of course, this discussion is not just limited to brakes but also gives an in-depth explanation of many other important safety features of cars. For instance, it says that “a good rear-view camera covers an area up to 81 inches” and explains why this is so. This book illustrates the importance of engineering design and thinking by talking about the massive amount of effort that goes into designing a car. It takes a huge group of engineers and designers and helps readers understand how important qualities like teamwork and perseverance are. One needs to aim for a goal and keep working until they achieve it. It teaches one to be focused and determined. Save the Crash-test Dummies is a must-have book.