Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Timeless Thomas

Author/Illustrator: Gene Barretta
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (July 17, 2012)
Audience: Grades 2nd to 5th
Source: Personal Copy
Nonfiction * Biographical * Inventors

Description from GoodReads:
What do record players, batteries, and movie cameras have in common?
All these devices were created by the man known as The Wizard of Menlo Park: Thomas Edison.

Edison is most famous for inventing the incandescent lightbulb, but at his landmark laboratories in Menlo Park & West Orange, New Jersey, he also developed many other staples of modern technology.  Despite many failures, Edison persevered. And good for that, because it would be very difficult to go through a day without using one of his life-changing inventions. In this enlightening book, Gene Barretta enters the laboratories of one of America’s most important inventors.

My thoughts on this book:
I discovered Gene Barretta's books (Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin; Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci) a few months ago.  I loved his way of making information about famous inventors/thinkers very accessible and fun for young readers.  When I went in search of more information about Gene Barretta and his books, I discovered that a new book would be out soon.  I have been eagerly anticipating Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives and it didn't disappoint.

Barretta's latest book focuses on the life and inventions of Thomas Edison.  After a short introduction to Edison, Barretta begins by comparing "Present Day" activities such as recording sound or the photocopier and compares them to "Edison's Lab" and how some of Edison's inventions or ideas were forerunners to what we often take for granted.  There are over 15 examples of how Edison's inventions were instrumental in the development of the many common day items that are essential to us today.  Each of these items are presented in very readable text accompanied by bright, cartoon-like illustrations that add to the enjoyment of the story.

At the end of the book, Barretta provides the reader with short bios for 20 of Edison's Employees.  Additionally, there are some trivia facts and a bibliography that will hopefully encourage readers to learn more about Thomas Edison. Overall, this is an enjoyable look at Thomas Edison that will hopefully inspire children to not only try to succeed with taking risks but also model Edison's philosophy that failure is just as important to learning as getting it right.

I would encourage teachers and librarians to make a set of Barretta's books available in the classroom or school library.  I have a feeling that a lot of children will enjoy checking them out.  Look for Timeless Thomas at your local school or public library, and when purchasing books, consider supporting your local independent bookstore.

For more information on Gene Barretta: website | blog | facebook | twitter

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