That's How!

Christoph Niemann, Greenwillow, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-201963-9
Niemann's (Subway) dialogue between a freckle-faced girl and a boy in a red T-shirt provides a carefree antidote to earnest books of diagrams explaining complex mechanisms. "How does a truck work?" the girl asks, her question hanging in an oversize word balloon above her head. "Hmmm..." says the boy. "Let me think." A cutaway view of the truck (contained within the boy's speech bubble on the next spread) shows a lion inside it, peddling a set of gears and chains. "That's how!" says the boy, index finger raised for emphasis. Further on, in the dark interior of a freighter, an octopus twirls the tail of a whale like a propeller to drive it through the water, while a steamroller is revealed to be powered by two bears rolling over and over as a parrot tickles them. The whole thing conjures up a wide-eyed instructional filmstrip from the '60s. It's fine parody; even the youngest readers will understand that Niemann's drawings are make-believe. Joyfully liberating modern machinery from the laws of physics—while maintaining a dash of rationality—this is another winner for Niemann. Ages 2–5. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/21/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 40 pages - 978-0-06-201964-6
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