The Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford
Written by Suzanne Slade
Illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Charlesbridge Publishing 9/08/2015
32 pages Ages 7—12
“Thomas was curious about electricity—invisible energy that flowed and stopped, sizzled and popped.
“Henry was curious about engines—machines that chugged and purred, hiccupped and whirred.
“When Thomas Edison grew up, he invented the electric pen, phonograph, lightbulb, and more. Henry Ford dreamed of inventing a car—a road engine that hardworking families could afford. But year and year, Henry’s engine designs were a flop, while the whole country was crazy about Thomas’s inventions.
“Henry was frustrated. He wanted to give up! And he kept wondering . . .
“What’s Thomas’s secret?” [inside jacket]
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, both inventors, had explosive childhoods. Edison often mixed chemicals in his basement lab, which often shook the house when they exploded. Ford built a steam engine with a ten-gallon can, a pipe, and tin blades. The explosion set fire to the school fence. Mishap after mishap eventually led these two men to some of the most ingenious inventions, which changed the American landscape forever.
Thomas had success much earlier than Henry, but then he was 16-years-older. As Henry tried and failed to make an affordable car, he wondered how it was that Thomas had so much success. There had to be a reason, some secret to inventing only Edison knew. Edison had over 100 patents before Ford could ever learn his secret. People were excited about Edison’s phonograph and his incandescent bulb.
Finally, in 1896 at a dinner in New York City, the two men met. Henry Ford finally learned Thomas Edison’s secret for inventing. What Ford did not realize was that he already knew the secret! Still, after that meeting, Ford began having more success, building his Model A, Model T, and the assembly line at his manufacturing plant. He and Thomas Edison became fast friends and remained so their entire lives.
The Inventor’s Secret is a biography kids can use to start their own research on inventing. Slade emphasizes the human aspect of inventing, rather than the actual inventions. Kids will learn how mistakes are just setbacks, not failures. Perseverance is key. And it helps to have a mentor.
The watercolor, ink, and black colored-pencil illustrations fit this biography perfectly. The palette gives an old fashion feel to the pages, as if one is reading a book written long before 2015. Enhancing this are several nicely bordered spreads; using the light bulb for spreads about Edison and gears for those about Ford. Extensive back matter includes overlapping timelines for both inventors, additional information on the Edison-Ford friendship, the major inventions of both men, source notes, and a lengthy bibliography.
I really like the look of The Inventor’s Secret. I love the humorous mishaps each inventor experienced. Slade and Reinhardt brought Thomas Edison and Henry Ford alive and accessible for elementary kids. The emphasis is on these men and their childhoods, as opposed to their inventions, which most of use already know. Even men like Edison and Ford made mistakes, were laughed at, yet they found success in their ideas by “keeping at it.” These are traits kids need to know are good things. A mistake is not a failure and to succeed one must persevere.
THE INVENTOR’S SECRET, WHAT THOMAS EDISON TOLD HENRY FORD. Text copyright © 2015 by Suzanne Slade . Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Charlesbridge Publishing, Watertown, MA.
Meet the author, Suzanne Slade , at her website: http://www.suzanneslade.com/
Meet the illustrator, Jennifer Black Reinhardt, at her website: http://www.jbreinhardt.com/
Find more books at the Charlesbridge Publishing website: http://www.charlesbridge.com/
Also by Suzanne Slade
The House That George Built – art by Rebecca Bond (release date 1/19/2016)
The Science of Bicycle Racing (The Science of Speed)
Splat!: Wile E. Coyote Experiments with States of Matter – art by Christian Cornia
. . —and many more
Also by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs – story by Linda Sue Park (release date 3/08/2016)
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy – story by Susan Vaught
Rabbi Benjamin’s Buttons – story by Alice B. McGinty
. . —and many more
Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
THE INVENTOR’S SECRET by Suzanne Slade . Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. Used by permission of Charlesbridge Publishing.
Full Disclosure: The Inventor’s Secret, What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford by Suzanne Slade & Jennifer Black Reinhardt, and received from Charlesbridge Publishing, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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