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Thing Explainer - Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

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Is this book about a real woman in STEAM?

Have you ever tried to learn more about some incredible thing, only to be frustrated by incomprehensible jargon? Randall Munroe is here to help. In Thing Explainer, he uses line drawings and only the thousand (or, rather, “ten hundred”) most common words to provide simple explanations for some of the most interesting stuff there is, including:

food-heating radio boxes (microwaves)
tall roads (bridges)
computer buildings (datacenters)
the shared space house (the International Space Station)
the other worlds around the sun (the solar system)
the big flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates)
the pieces everything is made of (the periodic table)
planes with turning wings (helicopters)
boxes that make clothes smell better (washers and dryers)
the bags of stuff inside you (cells)

How do these things work? Where do they come from? What would life be like without them? And what would happen if we opened them up, heated them up, cooled them down, pointed them in a different direction, or pressed this button? In Thing Explainer, Munroe gives us the answers to these questions and so many more. Funny, interesting, and always understandable, this book is for anyone—age 5 to 105—who has ever wondered how things work, and why.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 12.09.52
Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 12.09.52
Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 12.09.52


Randall Munroe




Houghton Mifflin Harcourt;

Recommended Ages:

5+ years


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Girls Love STEAM Review:

Date of Review – 11-9-20

What part of STEAM does this book address?
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Would this book inspire girls to explore STEAM further?
This book explains how complex things work by using simple terminology (the 1000 most common words in the English language), so it can inspire kids to further look into the ‘things’ this book explains.

Any craft or activity associated within this book?

What did you like about the book?
Primarily, I love how the author is able to explain complex mechanisms, cycles, or objects using the most simplistic words in the English language. Additionally, the author has a great sense of humor and includes funny sayings and jokes throughout the book. Lastly, the simple drawing style of the detailed illustrations depicting the different ‘things’ throughout the book are both interesting to look at, but easy to understand what they represent.

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For ages 12 and under

Parent Permission Required

For ages 13-17

For ages 18 & Above

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