The Smithsonian—it isn’t just rocket science.
This spiral-bound guide is a modestly hefty piece of work, but that is due to the fact that we often forget that the Smithsonian isn’t just where they store the Spirit of Saint Louis and the lunar module. It is also home of the national museums of natural history and American history, as well as the air and space museum. And the collections are, in a word, spectacular. Korrell has a good mix going, with plenty of archival and contemporary photographs and illustrations accompanied by punchy text. Both Korrell and museum professionals have contributed the latter, with only a little oversimplification—“Geology is about understanding what we see around us.” It is predominantly straightforward—a good combination of earnest and bouncy—with bracing touches of humor: “Robotic spacecraft aren’t as particular as human space explorers…they do what they are asked to do without grumbling.” Always, Korrell keeps readers engaged with some simple quizzes—you can write right in the “guide”—and hide-and-seek games that challenge readers to find various objects somewhere in the rooms, as well as other activities.
A serious introduction to the national museums that does not take itself too seriously. (Nonfiction. 8-12)
The “M” word (museum) never had a bad connotation in our house, and that is probably because access to incredible museums was somewhat limited in Northern Michigan. Our visits to museums were usually wrapped up in a vacation, and we started our kids early beginning with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, followed quickly by the big fish tank in Chicago. The Smithsonian was done in doses due to its sheer size, and boy I wish we had access to this hands-on book for kids in advance. Parents will find this fun, four-color, interactive guide and workbook a great introduction to the three most visited: the National Air & Space, Natural History, and American History museums. Interviews, quizzes, games and journal pages along with 450 photos and illustrations.
Former museum docent and teacher Korrell has crafted an in-depth and interactive guide to the nation’s most iconic museum system. This manual encompasses three of the Smithsonian Institution’s most frequently visited sites: the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, and the National Museum of Natural History. Included are general do’s and don’ts for the museums, checklists of major highlights, and annotated floor plans. This book is a must-read for families headed to the museums, as it both maximizes visitors’ time spent in the facilities and serves as a great memento—especially since readers are encouraged to journal and record their impressions of major exhibits along the way. While intended for use in conjunction with a site visit, kids not headed to Washington will find value in reading about the Smithsonian’s hallmark exhibits, such as the First Ladies’ inaugural gowns, the Wright Brothers’ airplane, and the Hall of Mammals. A dynamic layout will foster boundless interest for museum visitors and casual readers alike.— Erin Anderson