Cool Stuff and How It Works has got to be one of the most aptly named books ever. Former IBM information designer Chris Woodford leads a team of writers with a marvelous knack for explaining technical concepts in an accessible manner. Cool Stuff is divided into six chapters exploring themes ranging from Connect (cell phones, fiber optics, pet translators) and Move (submersibles, black boxes, space shuttle) to Survive (laser surgery, bionic limbs, bio chips). The writers frequently draw connections between technology and nature, mentioning the bioluminescence of fireflies and jellyfish in a discussion of neon, for example. They also highlight new spins on old tech devices a digital pen, a Swiss Army knife/flash memory drive.

These colorful pages are packed with diagrams, images and text boxes, perfect for the way today's kids process information. The book uses scanning imagery colored X-rays, MRI and thermal to show the inner structure of such things as an electric guitar, an MP3 player, a washing machine and even a head listening to headphones. Cool Stuff would make the perfect gift for the kid in your life who likes to dismantle household gadgets and try to put them back together (not always successfully).

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