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PLEASE NOTE: My apologies to anyone who read this under Snapshots The Forces. I accidentally mixed the two up as I have five books in this series. I have now placed the correct review in each category.
Personally, I believe one of the major reasons why many children are fascinated by the military is because of all the equipment they have - or as my son puts it "all the cool stuff". Not to be sexist, but boys are different from girls, and boys do love machines, weapons and vehicles. Boys are also more likely to prefer non-fiction. My own sons go through spells - one week it is all comics and storybooks, the next week they want to read about "real things". I don't mind either way - as long as they are enjoying books of any kind I am happy. But literacy experts do insist that children need to have access to a good variety of both fiction and non-fiction from an early age, and I do believe this plays a key role in developing literacy. Many years ago an American study very accurately predicted which children would be academically successful in early adulthood simply by counting the books in the house when the child was young. We do not have an adequate local library - so I am committed to providing my children a very good selection of all types of reading material. Another reason to include plenty of non-fiction is to allow children to build a good base of general knowledge as they grow.
I chose this book after having purchased and been very impressed by another title in the same series "Explosions". In fact I ended up buying all of the titles in the series. This book is part a series called Snapshots published by Rising Stars for the educational market. The publisher gives these books a very wide age range of ages 7 -14. I believe this estimate is very fair but I think there is room to stretch this in both directions. The reading level is quite low - certainly not above age 7. But the interest level is far higher. I could easily see a 14 year old enjoying this book if they have any interest in the military. I have to admit, not only did I enjoy it, but I did learn a few things as well. My own sons are ages 4 and 7 and both did enjoy this book. I think the combination of a high interest level and low reading age make this book ideal, not only as light and easy read for very young children, but also for children who are learning to read later. I do know many boys and men who have difficulty reading. Many have said they feel embarrassed reading overly juvenile books. I believe this a book older children would still feel comfortable reading - and enjoy as well.
Military Machines is a very brief introduction to some of the military equipment. It covers vehicles from the 1st world war up until modern times. This is heavily illustrated and only 48 pages so text is limited. Most pages contain only one or two short paragraphs. This is always written in large, black well spaced print on a white or neutral colour background. In addition there are tow pages of interviews, one with tank soldiers and another with a submariner. I felt this was a nice touch which made the book more personal. This is a British book, so almost soldiers and equipment are British. We really liked this as it meant we saw familiar favourites like the Spitfire and Sopwith Camel.
My youngest son liked the older British aircraft the best. He loves Spitfires anyway. My oldest preferred the British Army Mark IV tank called the ship of the desert and the Harrier Jump Jets. Both absolutely loved the bomb disposal robot, but again, they have always loved these after being able to watch one at work once. They say they look like R.O.B. from Nintendo games. I was fascinated by the WW1 U- Boat. The description of each vehicle or machine is short, as mentioned there isn't much text, but it is informative and a wonderful introduction to this type of equipment. I spent a few hours after searching for a book just on the bomb disposal robots, but can not find one. Still there is always the Internet for further information and one can not expect such a small book to give really in depth information on so many topics.
The only place I would complain about book is the statement that "Eurofighters may be the last fighter planes that will carry human pilots". Possibly, and they do say may - but personally I don't think machines will be completely taking over for quite some time yet. Still we all have a right to our opinion, but I hate to think of this book dashing little boys dreams of becoming pilots.
Non-fiction books have a much smaller share of the market, and as a result often cost a bit more to meet production costs. Additionally these are marketed primarily to schools who are able to secure bulk discounts. The full rrp is a bit high £6.99, but copies are available for much less. You can buy a brand new book from Amazon Market place for £3.91 including postage and cheaper used books are often available. I paid £2.81. I did buy this for home education purposes, but I am just as happy to recommend it as part of the library of any child with an interest in the military and machines.