This graphic novel biography of the inventor of the cotton gin traces the genesis of Whitney's idea, its development and uses in the southern economy, and the inventor's patent disputes. Although the numerous iterations of the product's development are slow-going (e.g., sharp vs. dull teeth, angled vs. straight), other elements of Whitney's career (e.g., a major fire at his workshop, his role in the North's Civil War victory) provide more drama. The text provides social commentary on the system of slavery that the cotton gin helped fund. In typical comic-book style, most of the action is advanced via dialogue in bubbles; since this book is historically-based, yellow-tinted text backgrounds indicate primary quotes. The illustrations are also on par with typical comic-book styles—chiseled, buff Eli Whitney seems like a superhero in nineteenth-century garb. Although the text is lightweight, this graphic approach may spark reluctant readers' interest in history. Interested readers can build on this foundation by tracking down some of the books suggested for further reading. A volume in Capstone's "Graphic Library: Inventions and Discovery" series.
Jessica Gunderson grew up in the small town of Washburn, North Dakota. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota and an MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She has written more than fifty books for young readers. Her book Ropes of Revolution won the 2008 Moonbeam Award for best graphic novel. She currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and cat.
The Seeds of an Idea 4
The Cotton Gin Is Born 10
A Stolen Idea 18
The Cost of a Dream 24
More about Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin 28
Internet Sites 30
Read More 31