Posts tagged ‘inventions’

SOMEDAY…

A Farm Called Someday: A Novel of 1950s Montana

Written by Penelope Merrell

This middle-grade novel provides a fascinating glimpse into one family’s growth and evolution. The narrator is one of four sisters who describes her coming of age within a family that matures along with her.

Valene loves to write. The reader is treated to her reminiscences through her journal. It describes the struggles of a family who are fiercely devoted to each other yet defined by distinct differences. Valene loves horses and dreams of owning one Her family needs to make many sacrifices before they can buy their own farm. The word someday always seems far off. That is why Valene thinks it is the perfect name for their farm.

Readers learn what life is like growing up on a farm. How does one feed and care for animals, and live without conveniences like central heat and running water? Merrell’s drawings help readers visualize what a 50s washing machine and iron look like. She describes the stringing of lines for telephones, and the Sears Wish Book Catalog.

Many of the trials and tribulations of growing up have not changed. Teasing, bullying, and jockeying for power among siblings are still present. Merrell brings her characters to life. Today’s youth learn a lot about the past and how to appreciate modern conveniences, while getting a good flavor of living on a 1950s Montana farm.

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PUTTING THE 3 R’S TO GOOD USE

Fernando Invents Socks, A Gripping Story, About the Perils of Ocean Trash!

Written and lllustrated by Brad Pohl

An adorable rhyming picture book for elementary school eco conscious readers! The author employs clever rhymes, onomatopoeia, and alliteration to create this fun read-aloud.

The plot is original and creative. Fernando, a penguin, has a guest visiting him. Judith, a brown chicken is walking with Fernando along the Arctic shore when they both become entangled with yellow string around their feet. Fearful of becoming bait for sea lions, Fernando thinks quickly. He plucks two of Judith’s largest feathers.

What does he do with them and how does his discovery lead to an ingenious invention? Read this beautifully illustrated picture book to find out.

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TURNING ON THE LIGHTS

Electrifying America: From Thomas Edison to Climate Change

Written by I. David Rosenstein

The author is an engineer and lawyer who has spent more than forty years in the industry. Rosenstein begins his story in the mid-nineteenth century. He reminds readers that everyday tasks were time-consuming, back-breaking tasks before the advent of electricity. Soon electricity would transform life in the home, on the farm, in the office, in the factory, and on construction sites. Before that energy could be utilized, someone needed to invent the electric light bulb.

 

Thomas Edison already possessed a long list of inventions before tackling electricity. His work with the telegraph, telephone and phonograph had great potential. Unfortunately, Edison was a lot better at inventing than implementing his ideas in the business world. The fatal flaw in Edison’s direct current could be found in its limited ability to deliver electricity at any distance from a dynamo.

 

Nicholas Tesla had left his native Hungary to work with Edison in his lab. Edison’s insistence on using direct current led to a break when Tesla failed to convince him to consider using alternating current. Tesla left in 1885 to work independently. George Westinghouse had been experimenting with transformers to increase the voltage of alternating current over greater distances from dynamos. Westinghouse invited Tesla to use his facilities to develop a motor to use his system in factories and businesses. During the 1880’s and 1890’s, the two competing systems of AC and DC battled for supremacy in “The War of the Electric Current.”

 

After presenting the early history, Rosenstein moves on the powerful monopolies of the 1920’s, and the Golden Age of Electricity after World War II when the world turned back to business development on the home front. He talks about the failures of the industry in the Great Blackout in the Northeast in 1965 and traces the crises of the Oil Embargo of 1973 and the difficulties in California during the 90’s.

 

By the end of the 1900’s retail electric companies had begun to access electricity through a system of independent suppliers. Then the author discusses recent history and the issues leading up to climate control and the Paris accord. He ends the book by stating his opinion that a reconsideration of the concept of energy supply responding to public sentiments will likely lead to substantial changes in the future.

 

This story is an interesting study written by an expert in the field in layman’s terms. The concise book contains less than 150 pages and is easy to follow. Students who have an interest in history, electrical engineering and inventions would find this book a good resource. Recommended for anyone age ten or older.

 

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MUCH MORE THAN A SWIMMING GAME

HISTORY FOR KIDS:AN ILLUSTRATED BIOGRAPHY OF MARCO POLO

Written by Charles River Editors

Bio of Marco Polo,pic

Many children who live in the 21st century like to play a game in the pool called Marco Polo. The man who lived from 1254-1324 certainly knew a lot about water because he was born and raised in Venice. His father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo traveled world-wide as successful merchants. It appears that Marco did not even meet his father until he was a teenager because due to his father’s long absences from home. When Niccolo returned to Venice in 1270, he did not know that his wife had died nor that she had bore a son. Marco accompanied Niccolo when he left on the next business trip in 1272. The journey would take them to Jerusalem, Persia, Armenia, Turkey and the Mongolian Empire where Marco met Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan.

Few Europeans could imagine the palace of Kublai Khan who dressed in robes of silk and gold and lived in a building so large that 40,000 people could dine at the same time. Marco and he became good friends. Marco became an official royal messenger and tax collector for the Emperor traveling to Indonesia, India and Africa. He learned how to use native weapons like the bow and arrow, discovered how coal could be used for fuel, and used their paper currency for trade. Polo became fluent in the Mongolian language. His journals describe exotic animals like the rhinoceros, peacock and rhinoceros unknown to the Western world.

The Emperor was generous to his people, but eventually a war with Japan caused unrest. Polo could not leave without the Emperor’s permission. When he finally returned to Venice at age 38,  they were at war with Genoa. Polo was imprisoned. There he met another prisoner named Rustichello who encouraged him to record his world -wide journeys. By the time he got out of prison, Polo had inherited his father and uncle’s fortunes. Europe was about to enter the age of exploration. Sailors and cartographers based their calculations on his journals. Christopher Columbus decided to sail west to get to China discovering a new continent in the process.

As you see, this concise biography is not written simply to explain one life but to show the influence and future consequences of his fascinating life. The editors say that the book is aimed at the 7-10 age group and I feel that they are on target. The illustrations help to visualize the textual descriptions and the maps give a flavor of the knowledge of the period. I believe that most of the information is accurate though there is a dearth of written documentation. Both children and adults can use this book as an introduction to a study of religions, trade and culture of regions not well known to the Western world in the thirteenth century. Children may have a better understanding of just what they mean when they say, “Marco….Polo” in the pool.

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