Vintage Find - What Makes It Go? by Joe Kaufman

I have a new addiction...

In my recent interview with Ingela P Arrhenius, she discussed that the one children’s book she would love to have had the chance to illustrate would have been What Makes It Go? by Joe Kaufman.

I needed an image of the book, one thing led to another, and cue a good few hours disappearing down a wonderful rabbit hole of vintage children’s book illustrations.

Some look completely timeless and others now look a bit dated (but still in a very charming way), so I thought I would post some that caught my eye.

First up, in honour of Ingela (well she did give me the idea) we have What Makes It Go? by Joe Kaufman.

I can see why this book would have captured a young person’s imagination. Full of detail and funny illustrations, it starts with a note to parents: “This book was designed to help answer one of the most frequently asked questions of childhood – What makes it work?”

(Obviously Kaufman had had that awkward moment when you’ve been asked something by a child and you’ve no idea of the answer.)

The book is a basic introduction to the mechanics, and the concepts behind the mechanics, of a variety of appliances, machines and vehicles. It covers everything from cars to sewing machines, toasters to fountain pens.

Some of it is understandably out-of-date. The charming use of a portable tape recorder includes recording interviews, learning French and being an international spy.

American Joe Kaufman was a writer and illustrator and a recipient of the Art Directors Club medal (1948), the New York Academy of Sciences Children's Science Book award (1973), Gold award, and the Silver award Art Directors Club.

Inside page of What makes it go

Inside page of What Makes It Go featuring a cross section of a ship

Inside page of the book What Makes It Go? featuring a cross section of an escalator

Inside page of What Makes It Go? Featuring cars through the ages