Mazie's Amazing Machines

Image of Mazie's Amazing Machines
Release Date: 
September 12, 2023
Nancy Paulsen Books
Reviewed by: 

Irresistibly charismatic Mazie McGear takes us on a bounding tour of her ideas in Mazie’s Amazing Machines. Smart, precocious, preteen Mazie absolutely loves engineering. No, loves is not quite the right word. She eats, breathes, dreams engineering with all the charming gusto of youthful exuberance. Luckily she’s also full of the energy it takes to execute her schemes and, in the end, pull her family together in one great big show of affection.

Claiming to be the small one in the family, Mazie does not let her diminutive stature dissuade her from being of big use around the home. If there is a problem, she’s on the hunt for solutions. The dog needs to be fed every day, there’s a solution to be engineered to feed him.

Mazie explains how she approaches her problem-solving process: 1. turn on imagination, 2. draw, 3. build. A little hammering, screwing and adjusting and voilà the “Food-o-matic” is assembled and cute little pup can feed himself. Our little pet can pull on his chew toy, which is now dangling from a string wound around a pulley system, and activate the hatch holding the dog food, triggering a portion to flow through the hatch and down via gravity through a funnel into his bowl. And Mazie, genius that she is, can sleep in a wee bit longer in the mornings.

Other problems Mazie witnesses include her mom struggling to move heavy boxes around the house, her dad needing help lifting something in the garage, her brother oversleeping every morning. All require mechanical devices to assist, and Mazie is all over it with an unstoppable I-can-do-it flair. And does she ever do it! Her concoctions are ingenious, and Holmes’ illustration style helps us see not only what Mazie creates, but her thought process throughout all phases of design and build. Mazie make-shifts everything, but that is part of the use-what-you’ve-got-to-your-advantage message. 

Storytelling is as good as it comes with Mazie’s Amazing Machines. Haft is no stranger to teaching. She has definitively spent time with elementary readers honing in on engaging ways to present material to that audience. Connecting with S.T.E.M. comes across so naturally with Mazie, and Haft builds upon each Mazie-engineered success with one culminating project that incorporates each of the devices used in Mazie’s previous inventions. It’s all so sweet, smart, satisfying, and surprising.

It’s tempting to reach out an tell Mazie to keep it up, but it’s unnecessary. Mazie is intrinsically motivated and will soon be impacting more than her household. The rest of the world needs minds like Mazie’s, thankfully her family recognizes her value (well, maybe not her brother). These young creatives are on the verge of designing a new world. Hopefully Mazie’s Amazing Machines is just the beginning.