Homeschooling,  Literary Pursuits

Review: Hidden Systems

Today, I’m sharing a book review for Hidden Systems: Water, Electricity, the Internet, and the Secrets Behind the Systems We Use Every Day.

Disclosure: I voluntarily received a complimentary copy from Timberdoodle as part of their blog review team. All views expressed are my own.

My Review

A tornado tore through our neighborhood a few weeks ago. Trees fell across power lines in multiple places, so we were without power for the better part of a day. We don’t have a cell signal where we live, which means that without electricity, we were also without phones or the internet. The big question throughout the day was, “When will the power be back on?” The linemen were working as fast as they could and the power was restored sooner than I expected.

It was exciting and dramatic in the short term. I packed up my laptop and went to town to work from a coffee shop that day. (Such a hardship, dontcha know?) But long term and widespread? We would sorely miss electricity, the internet, and more importantly fresh tap water.

Flipping a light switch, turning on a water faucet, or speaking a command to our phones generates immediate results that we don’t even think about. But where does the water come from? What generates the electricity? Where are the computers that hold all the data that your smartphone or laptop can access?

If those questions have occurred to you before Hidden Systems by Dan Nott is a book that can help you understand how things work.


  • Introduction: What is a hidden system?
  • Lines of Light: How do we picture the internet and what is it actually?
  • Power Grid: How do we power our world with electricity?
  • Waterworks: Where is our place in Earth’s most important system?
  • Conclusion: What are the futures we can imagine?

From the Publisher

Water, electricity, and the internet: hidden systems we can’t live without but rarely ever think about!

We use these systems every day, but most of us don’t know when or why they were built, or how they even work. What if the way we use them isn’t compatible with our world today–or the better future we want to build?

In a fascinating book that only acclaimed teacher and artist Dan Nott could create, readers of all ages can discover the secrets that underpin our lives.

My Thoughts

The graphic novel format works well for explaining the intricacies of the Hidden Systems that we take for granted in our daily lives. The detailed drawings with small bits of text help explain these systems in a simplified way. While I don’t always agree with the author’s worldview (particularly in the section about water), that is not the point of the book so I didn’t have a problem disregarding that perspective.

Bonus feature: I love a hardback book with a dust jacket. I always enjoy peeking under the dust jacket to see what the book cover looks like. Often, it’s plain and boring. In this case, it wasn’t. It tickled me to have such a neat design hidden under the dust jacket of a book entitled Hidden Systems.

Hidden Systems is included in Timberdoodle’s 12th Grade Curriculum Kit.

More Historical Graphic Novels

If you (or your kids) enjoy the graphic novel format you’ll want to check out these other historical graphic novels from Timberdoodle:

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