The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors
Chris Barton, , illus. by Tony Persiani. . Charlesbridge, $18.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-57091-673-1
In this debut for both collaborators, Barton takes on the dual persona of popular historian and cool science teacher as he chronicles the Switzer brothers' invention of the first fluorescent paint visible in daylight. The aptly named Day-Glo, he explains, started out as a technological novelty act (Joe, an amateur magician, was looking for ways to make his illusions more exciting), but soon became much more: during WWII, one of its many uses was guiding Allied planes to safe landings on aircraft carriers. The story is one of quintessentially American ingenuity, with its beguiling combination of imaginative heroes (“Bob focused on specific goals, while Joe let his freewheeling mind roam every which way when he tried to solve a problem”), formidable obstacles (including, in Bob's case, a traumatic accident), a dash of serendipity and entrepreneurial zeal. Persiani's exuberantly retro 1960s drawings—splashed with Day-Glo, of course—bring to mind the goofy enthusiasm of vintage educational animation and should have readers eagerly following along as the Switzers turn fluorescence into fame and fortune. Ages 7–10.
Reviewed on: 06/29/2009