A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood and Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison

Don Brown, Author Houghton Mifflin 17 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-19487-5
Brown (Teedie: The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt) offers a folksy, episodic picture book biography of Edison’s early years, highlighting his entrepreneurial spirit and love of experimentation, while incorporating a wealth of fascinating, little-known anecdotes about the accomplished inventor. At 12, the homeschooled boy worked 14-hour days, hawking newspapers and other items to passengers on trains, and one day started a fire while conducting a chemistry experiment in the baggage car. Tawny-hued, loosely rendered illustrations, which Brown created using digital imagery and watercolors, balance portrayals of Edison’s industrious and mischievous sides. After launching a newspaper business, Edison decided “it was much more fun hanging around telegraph offices.” He quickly honed his skills as a telegraph operator and discovered ways to improve the machinery. Brown’s description of Edison’s first patented invention (an electric vote-recording device) exemplifies the author’s low-key style: “The machine was a flop. No one wanted it.” A sprink-ling of quotations adds Edison’s own voice to the narrative, which is capped by an author’s note touching on achievements and controversies of Edison’s later life. Ages 5–8. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/26/2010
Release date: 05/01/2010
Genre: Children's
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