Posted by: Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan
Lynn: Legos have been a feature at my house for thirty years or more. My sons, now in their thirties, played with them nonstop and that building gene passed straight through the genetic tree to my grandsons. Since I provide care for my local grandsons, I still have Legos dominating my house: completed projects sit on every surface, bins of pieces sit in front of the fireplace, half-finished projects litter the floor and don’t get me started about trying to vacuum! But, aside from all that, I love Legos too and it’s not just the quiet that reigns blissfully when the boys are building with them. I love how Legos inspire them to be creative, to think through problems, to experiment, to develop a plan and follow it through, to let their imaginations have free rein and of course to have fun.
The boys aren’t much for instructions – they generally build a set once and then the pieces go into a big bin of raw material for whatever they dream up next. But we recently found 3 books at the public library that they have loved and I thought it might be helpful to let the focus group add to my review here. As a point of reference, the twins are 10 and very skilled builders and their 9-year old step-brother is just a bit behind them in skill level.
The Lego Adventure Book by Megan Rothrock (No Starch 2013) is much more than an idea book. Designed as an adventure, the character Megs travels through the book, meeting designers along the way. Big color pictures show step-by-step how to build each project. The projects vary wonderfully from vehicles to a Medieval Village to dinosaurs to a factory that builds space turtles. The designers are a great mix of gender and nationality and the designs use standard Lego bricks. A Building Journal provides tips for building each design.
Focus Group: Awesome ideas in this book! The pictures and numbered steps were great and pretty easy to understand. We tried some of these and they worked out great and we want to try a bunch more.
The Lego Technic Idea Book: Fantastic Contraptions (No Starch 2011) by Yoshihito Isogawa is equally fascinating and somewhat different in concept. This book uses Lego Technic parts and offers detailed examples for building moving mechanisms to use in projects. This volume focuses on using propellers, weights, magnets, springs, lights and pneumatics and more. It is definitely for an older and more skilled builder. Photographs of the mechanisms from various angles are provided but there is no step-by-step set of instructions. The twins were fascinated by this one and I can see some intricate designs in our future.
Focus Group: Cool!!! We built the first two 4-legged walkers and they work great. We want to build more of these but we need to sort out the pieces we need. These will be awesome to put into space ships and cars.
Extreme Bricks: Spectacular, Record-Breaking, and Astounding Lego Projects from Around the World (Skyhorse 2013) by Sarah Herman is a jaw-dropping book that is really fun to look at whether you are a Lego expert or barely able to snap two bricks together. In the Introduction, Herman talks about the AFOL’s (adult fans of Legos) whose projects grace this book. I was fascinated and had not known much about these creative people, some of them paid professionals that Lego employs to build huge models and some that are devoted amateurs who build because they love it. Most of the book is a showcase of astonishing, mind-blowing projects with factual information about the builder and the project including how many Lego “elements” were used in the project. The projects range from a 14 ft. replica of the Seattle Space Needle to a parody of a Reuben painting, The Adoration of the Magi and everything in between. We all loved browsing this book.
Focus Group: We really liked this book. It is totally awesome to look at.
So, the boys have used the word “awesome” a lot but the verdict from here is that these three are all well done and the first two are very useful for builders depending on their skill level. Don’t miss the last one for the sheer marvels inside. Now, if someone would just do a book about how to STORE all the pieces!