Cool inventions

Alkire, Jessie  Hot Wheels Developer: Elliot Handler 
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    ABDO 

Borgert-Spaniol, Megan  Lincoln Logs Creator: John Lloyd Wright 
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    ABDO
Borgert-Spaniol, Megan  My Little Pony Pioneer: Bonnie Zacherle 
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    ABDO

Thomas, Rachael L.  Nerf Genius: Reyn Guyer 
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    ABDO
Thomas, Rachael L.  Nintendo Innovator: Hiroshi Yamauchi 
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    ABDO
Thomas, Rachael L.  The Slime Queen: Karina Garcia 
Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    ABDO

Checkerboard Library: Toy Trailblazers series. Each of these engaging biographies introduces readers to the creator of a popular classic kids' toy or game. The texts are generally positive (and overuse exclamation points) but don't ignore difficulties and hardship, both personal and business-related. Captioned photos, archival reproductions, and "Fun Fact" boxes liven up the pages. The topics have ready-made kid-appeal; readers will glean insight into product development and the challenges of running a business. Timeline. Glos., ind.  

Subjects: Biographies; Individual Biographies; Women—Biographies; Women—Business; Women—Inventors; Women—Mexican Americans; Mexican Americans; Business; Inventions and inventors; Toys; Buildings; Handicrafts; Video games; Japan; Zacherle, Bonnie; Garcia; Karina; Handler, Elliot; Wright, John Lloyd; Yamauchi, Hiroshi; Guyer, Reyn  


Biebow, Natascha  The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons 
Gr. K–3    40 pp.    Houghton 

Illustrated by Steven Salerno. Fascinated by the natural world's many colors, Edwin Binney developed eight different colors of nontoxic crayons at his company in June 1903; they were an instant hit and are still made today. Whenever the text mentions a color, the word is set in bold for easy recognition by children. Salerno's dynamic spreads aptly burst with a variety of colors. Occasional helpful sidebars provide further explanations, particularly about the Crayola invention process. Bib. 

Subjects: Biographies; Individual Biographies; Crayons; Inventions and inventors; Industry; Binney, Edward; Color 


Fallon, Michael  Self-Driving Cars: The New Way Forward 
Middle school, high school    104 pp.    Twenty-First Century 

Fallon provides thorough discussion of the invention of early automobiles, the development of modern cars, government and industrial efforts to design autonomous vehicles, and the safety and cultural impacts of these new technologies. The engaging main text is supplemented with historical and modern photographs and relevant sidebars. A final chapter references popular fiction and films to imagine our self-driving future. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., glos., ind.  

Subjects: Technology; Machines and technology; Industry; Inventions and inventors; Transportation 


Stone, Tanya Lee  Pass Go and Collect $200: The Real Story of How Monopoly Was Invented 
Gr. K–3, 4–6    40 pp.    Holt/Ottaviano 

Illustrated by Steven Salerno. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Magie developed a board game to expose unfair housing practices at the turn of the twentieth century. Charles Darrow makes the game brighter and bolder; he buys Magie out, becoming the sole proprietor of the newly named Monopoly. Stone smoothly navigates a changing cast of characters and time periods, repeatedly drawing readers in with thought-provoking questions. Salerno's mixed-media, retro-style illustrations convey a sense of the times. Bib. 

Subjects: The Arts; Inventions and inventors; Poverty; Games—Board games; Women—Inventors; Women—Biographies; Biographies; Games, Magic, and Riddles  


Tomsic, Kim  Guitar Genius: How Les Paul Engineered the Solid-Body Electric Guitar and Rocked the World 
Gr. K–3, 4–6    56 pp.    Chronicle

Illustrated by Brett Helquist. This look at young Les Paul, the father of the solid-body electric guitar, capably explains the mechanics behind the boy's inventions—arguably a little too capably, as short shrift is given to interiority, although the retro-flavored oil paintings tease out the human element. This book is best suited for readers (including adults) who are already besotted with the rock guitar sound. Bib.  

Subjects: Biographies; Individual Biographies; Inventions and inventors; Musicians; Paul, Les; Music—Rock music 

From the October 2019 issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book.

Horn Book
Horn Book

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