Have You Thanked an Inventor Today?

Patrice McLaurin, illus. by Dian Wang. Digital Arts, $14.95 paper (36p) ISBN 978-0-9973152-0-2
McLaurin encourages children to appreciate everyday inventions that make their lives easier while acknowledging the contributions of African-American inventors. It’s a worthy goal, but the project is let down by oversimplifications or mischaracterizations of what these men and women accomplished. Addressing readers directly, McLaurin uses the frame of a child’s day to highlight recognizable inventions: “And when you’re on your way to school... you have to thank Garrett Morgan for the traffic light, otherwise none of our streets would be safe to cross!” Wang’s chipper digital illustrations show a brown-skinned boy making his way through the community, and small portraits of the inventors appear throughout. But some of the credited inventions are based in legend rather than fact (peanut butter for George Washington Carver, potato chips for George Crum), and while Robert Fleming and Sarah Boone may hold patents for versions of the guitar and ironing board, these were not first of their kind; other claims are similarly iffy. Activities and additional biographical details appear at the end, but McLaurin doesn’t include source notes, forcing readers to take the book’s questionable assertions at face value. Ages 5–12. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 10/02/2017
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 36 pages - 978-0-9973152-1-9
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