Caramel reviews Cars on Mars by Alexandra Siy

Readers of the book bunnies blog know that Caramel loves nonfiction books where he can learn about real things. See for example his review of a book on samurai, another on knights and castles, another on elements and the periodic table, yet another on dinosaurs, and finally another on engineering. Today Caramel shares his thoughts on a neat book by Alexandra Siy: Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet. As always, Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.

Caramel reviews Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy.
Caramel reviews Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy.

Sprinkles: So Caramel, tell us about this book.

Caramel: It’s about rovers.

S: What is a rover?

C: They are vehicles that go on Mars or other planets. When humans can’t go there themselves, they send the rovers to the planet to explore. They rove it.

S: Hmm, the dictionary definition of roving is “travel constantly without a fixed destination; wander”. So I guess these vehicles go around a planet just exploring and recording and measuring and so on, right?

C: Yep, basically.

Caramel is reading Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy.
Caramel is reading Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy.

S: So this book is about the rovers on Mars. Why is that important?

C: Because we want to know what is on Mars. It apparently has tons of iron.

S: Is that why it is called the red planet?

C: Yes. Iron is red.

S: Apparently Romans called it Mars because red reminded them of blood and war and Mars was their god of war. And Greeks called it Ares because Ares was their god of war. But today we are still very interested in Mars. Why do you think this is so?

C: It’s a planet that is kind of like earth in many ways and it is one of the closest. And maybe we can use the iron in there.

S: There is a lot of iron on earth too, so we do not really need to go to Mars for it, but it is of course interesting to learn about other planets, especially one so close to ours! and for many years people thought there were other living things on Mars. Have you heard of Orson Welles and his radio play about the Martian Invasion?

C: No I did not know about that! It sounds very interesting. Can we listen to it?

S: Yes, after we are done with this post, we will definitely listen to this recording. So let us get back to our book. What else would you like to tell us about it?

C: The book has many pictures of Mars and the rovers. There is Spirit and then there is Opportunity. And the book ends with this:

Although they found proof of past water on Mars (mission accomplished!), Spirit and Opportunity keep on keepin’ on. Noone knows when or where they will finally stop. But Steve and everyone else who is part of this far-out road trip hope that some day there will be tire tracks and footprints, side by side, on Mars.

S: That ends on a really positive note. But we now know that Spirit did not go on for too much longer and stopped communicating in 2010. Opportunity did go on for a lot longer, till 2018. So this book is a snapshot of the life stories of these two rovers.

C: Right. And you can learn a lot about Mars and space travel and making vehicles that can go around on other planets when you read it.

S: That sounds like a good read to me. And you can check out this NASA page to learn more about the newer rovers and more generally about NASA’s Mars program. What do you want to say last?

C: Stay tuned for more book bunnies adventures!

Caramel enjoyed reading Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy with a Martian friend. Can you see this little alien?
Caramel enjoyed reading Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy with a Martian friend. Can you see this little alien?

Caramel reviews Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson

Caramel loves to read and review books which are about real things, see his reviews of books on samurai, dinosaurs, knights and castles, and dental health . He also loves building and making things. So it was only natural that when he discovered Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson, in the book bunnies’ home library, he had to read it immediately. Below he shares some of his thoughts on this reference text. Sprinkles is taking notes as usual and asking followup questions.

Caramel reviews Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson.
Caramel reviews Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson.

Sprinkles: How should we start this review Caramel?

Caramel: You just did!

S: Yeah, I did, didn’t I? So what next? What do you want to say about this book?

C: It’s a good book. If you are a bunny who wants to be an engineer when you grow up, this might be the book for you.

S: Why do you say that?

C: The book has a bunch of engineering examples.

S: Yes, the back cover advertises “100 achievements that changed history”. So there are 100 different engineering-related entries in the book, going more or less in chronological order. That means they are listed from the oldest to the newest. Can you tell us a few of your favorites?

C: 65 is Jet Power and it is one of my favorites. But my favorite in the whole book is 73: SR-71 Blackbird.

S: What is that?

C: It’s a spy plane.

S: What does that mean?

C: It means they spy on the enemy. It says it is radar-absorbing, which makes it harder to detect. I also like 82: Stealth Plane, a lot.

Caramel is pointing at one of his favorite entries in Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology: Stealth Planes.

C: And there is 75: Apollo Spacecraft. The NASA program for it was launched in 1961, it says.

S: And there is more information on it on Wikipedia in case others are interested. So each of these entries is about one page, right?

C: Yes. Exactly one page. And there are pictures and I like looking at them. 

S: Then there is text, describing the entry, and telling some of its history, right?

C: Yes. 

S: So what is the first entry?

C: Let me see. First there is some stuff about engineering and applied science. Then they start with 1: Stone Technology. And 2 is Taming Fire. 3 is The First Boats

S: Wow! It goes way back! So how far back does it go?

C: It goes way back. Let me read the beginning of 1 to you:

“Engineering with stone technology is older than the human race. Distant ancestors of homo sapiens (modern humans) began making and using stone tools as long as 3.3 million years ago.”

S: That is a long time ago. To compare, do you remember how long ago the dinosaurs went extinct? 

C: About sixty-five million years ago. I already reviewed a book about them!

S: So dinosaurs were around even earlier. 

C: That’s for sure. 

S: So what is the last achievement they list in the book?

C: 100 is Solar Power. Then there is a long section called Engineering 101: The Basics.

S: What’s in that section? 

C: There is a part named Imponderables where they ask questions like: “Will space planes change transportation?”, “What will graphene do for us?”, “Will we run out of raw materials?”, “Can engineering solve climate change?”, “Can screens replace paper?”

S: Very interesting questions. The one about screens and paper is about books and reading, I think. We still love reading paper books, right?

C: Yes. This book for instance. It has lots of colorful pictures I can look at. 

S: Screens could have colored pictures, too, of course, but holding a book in your paws is a neat experience. So are we done with the review? 

C: Yes. Stay tuned for more Book Bunnies adventures!

Caramel really enjoys reading sections from Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson.
Caramel really enjoys reading sections from Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology, edited by Tom Jackson.