- Toilet: How It Works by David Macaulay
Macaulay adds to his fine and growing collection of nonfiction easy readers with a topic everyone can and does use. The toilet is a water bowl for the pet dog, an interment site for the dead goldfish, a planter of dubious aesthetic value for home gardeners, and of course, a vital part of the waste disposal system that advances public health. First Macaulay explains the mechanics of a simple standard tank model, showing the interplay between lever, stopper, float, and refill. Ending the story there, however, would leave readers stranded on a pile … well, in sore need of information on the further adventures of flushed waste. Macaulay accommodates the reader with separate discussions of the septic tank system and the community waste treatment plants, and the ultimate return of solid-waste fertilizer to the fields and purified water to the water cycle. There’s no cheating on the vocabulary—mastery of the terminology presented here will prepare kids to discuss disposal problems with parents and plumbers. The watercolor illustrations, though, do the heavy lifting, and kids who pore over carefully marked diagrams will find the text can serve simply as support to a largely visual experience. Information and illustrated waste flow smoothly in tandem across the page turns, with pipes color coded and arrows directing movement through the facilities. Macaulay fans will surely be alert to his signature humor, which catches an alarmed man in the shower who’s just discovered himself in a cutaway, and which adds disembodied eyes and [End Page 167] hands to “complete” the portrayal of the digestive system. A glossary, index, and bibliography are included.