All Aboard!: Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine

Overview

In the second of Tundra's Great Idea series, biographies for children who are just starting to read, Monica Kulling presents the life of an extraordinary man.

There were few opportunities for the son of slaves, but Elijah McCoy's dreams led him to study mechanical engineering in Scotland. He learned everything there was to know about engines - how to design them and how to build them. But when he returned to the United States to look for work at the Michigan Central Railroad, ...

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Overview

In the second of Tundra's Great Idea series, biographies for children who are just starting to read, Monica Kulling presents the life of an extraordinary man.

There were few opportunities for the son of slaves, but Elijah McCoy's dreams led him to study mechanical engineering in Scotland. He learned everything there was to know about engines - how to design them and how to build them. But when he returned to the United States to look for work at the Michigan Central Railroad, the only job Elijah could get was shoveling coal into a train's firebox.

Undaunted, he went on to invent a means of oiling the engine while the train was running, changing the face of travel around the world.

With playful text and lively illustrations, All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine may be the first biography a child discovers, and it will whet the appetite for many more.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"When I read Monica Kulling's retelling of the life of Elijah McCoy I felt the same sense of wonder and curiosity that I first experienced when I was initially introduced to this enigmatic, inventive, and charismatic figure. Bill Slavin's images are absolutely beautiful. My daughters LOVE it."
Andrew Moodie, author of The Real McCoy

“an engaging biography of the African-American inventor . . . The narrative includes fictionalized dialogue and clear explanations about how the machinery works and concludes with an inspiring message . . .” 
— School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In 1860 Elijah McCoy, son of slaves, goes to Scotland to study how to design and build engines. But back in the United States the only job he can find on a train is shoveling coal. The lively text of this second volume in the "Great Idea Series" clearly depicts the excitement of the time over the steam engine along with Elijah's work. While on the train, he notes the difficulty of constantly stopping to oil the engine from underneath the train. He finally designs and patents an oil cup to do the job automatically. During his lifetime McCoy filed fifty-seven patents; he was "an inventing marvel." Slavin's pen and ink and watercolor double-page naturalistic scenes tell the visual story while providing information about railroad travel at the time. Occasionally some animals appear as observers, adding to the light-hearted narrative. A note reports the origin of the expression "the real McCoy." Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3—An engaging biography of the African-American inventor. The son of former slaves who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad, young McCoy was interested in how machines work. At age 16, he went to Scotland to study mechanical engineering. After his schooling was complete, he joined his family in Michigan, where he applied for work at the Michigan Central Railroad. He was offered a job oiling the train wheels and shoveling coal rather than building and designing engines. In need of employment, he accepted the "ashcat" position, and as he toiled away at the dangerous job, he realized that there had to be a safer way to keep the trains running. For two years, McCoy made drawings and eventually a model of an oil cup to supply lubrication to the moving parts of the engine. Wisely, he patented his invention and convinced his employer to give it a trial run. The train to Kalamazoo arrived at its destination in record time without having to stop to oil the engine machinery. The narrative includes fictionalized dialogue and clear explanations about how the machinery works and concludes with an inspiring message. "When Elijah got older, he encouraged children to stay in school and to follow their dreams too." Expressive watercolors, some full page and some full spread, capture the time period, allowing readers to imagine what life was like in this era, and add energy and touches of humor.—Linda L. Walkins, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, Brighton, MA
From the Publisher
Praise for All Aboard!

"An engaging biography of the African-American inventor.... The narrative includes fictionalized dialogue and clear explanations about how the machinery works and concludes with an inspiring message.... Expressive watercolors, some full page and some full spread, capture the time period, allowing readers to imagine what life was like in this era, and add energy and touches of humor." - School Library Journal and Black History Month 2011: SLJ's Picks

"... The facts are well supported by the colourful pictures. McCoy's life is an inspiration to young people as it tells of his dream and passion for becoming an engineer... an excellent read aloud. These bold illustrations are full of action showing trains and people in motion and likely to keep young readers' interest. Highly recommended." - Resource Links

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887769450
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 8/10/2010
  • Series: Tundra Great Idea Series
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,489,565
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD460L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

MONICA KULLING was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. A poet, she has also published many books for children. Best known for her clear and engaging biographies, she has tackled subjects ranging from Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Houdini. Her book It's A Snap! George Eastman's First Photo, illustrated by Bill Slavin, was the first in Tundra's Great Idea Series. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto.

BILL SLAVIN has garnered many awards for the over seventy books for children he has illustrated, including The Big Book of Canada by Christopher Moore and The Library Book: The Story of Libraries from Camels to Computers by Maureen Sawa. Among his many honors, he has won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, and The Blue Spruce Children's Choice Award.

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