cover image Incredible Cross-Sections

Incredible Cross-Sections

Richard Platt, Stephen Biesty. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $19.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-679-81411-5

For once ``incredible'' isn't an overstatement. This dazzling book offers spread after spread of cutaway illustrations that reveal the hidden architecture of 18 celebrated structures, from a Gothic cathedral to a coal mine to the space shuttle. Details are so intricate that the reader will be tempted to reach for a magnifying glass--somehow Biesty conveys a sense of both the proverbial forest and its trees. Two foldouts, each nearly three feet in length, suggest the majestic scale of their subjects: respectively, the ocean liner Queen Mary and a steam train built in 1928. Laid out in the unmistakable Dorling Kindersley style, the artwork is then linked to paragraphs of quirkily explanatory text (one item about galleons proclaims that sailors killed 4000 rats on an Atlantic crossing in 1622; the jumbo jet information includes a description of how air is vented from toilets and how waste is disposed of). Sites are pan-Atlantic--the Empire State Building is shown along with the London Underground--so readers won't mind that the featured auto factory attaches the steering wheel to the ``wrong'' side of the car. There's not a single misstep in this endlessly entertaining endeavor. All ages. (Aug.)