In the Bag!: Margaret Knight Wraps It Up

Overview

Tundra's Great Idea Series are early-reader biographies. The third book in the series introduces the fascinating Margaret Knight. Known as Mattie, she was different from most American girls living in 1850. She loved to make things with wood and made the best kites and sleds in town. Her father died when she was only three and by the time she was twelve she was working at the local cotton mill, alongside her two older brothers. One day she saw a worker get injured by a shuttle which had come loose from the giant ...

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Overview

Tundra's Great Idea Series are early-reader biographies. The third book in the series introduces the fascinating Margaret Knight. Known as Mattie, she was different from most American girls living in 1850. She loved to make things with wood and made the best kites and sleds in town. Her father died when she was only three and by the time she was twelve she was working at the local cotton mill, alongside her two older brothers. One day she saw a worker get injured by a shuttle which had come loose from the giant loom, and the accident inspired her to invent a stop-motion device. It was to be the first of her many inventions. Margaret devoted her life to inventing, and is best known for the clever, practical, paper bag. When she died in 1914 she had ninety inventions to her name and over twenty patents, astounding accomplishments for a woman of her day. Monica Kulling deftly uses easy-to-read language and lots of dialogue to bring an amazing, inspiring woman to life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for In the Bag!

"...In clean, straightforward prose, Kulling explains how Knight's interest in and knack for machines was present even at a young age.... Paired with Parkins's detailed and handsome pen-and-ink illustrations, the book focuses on Knight's invention of a paper bag-manufacturing machine and her legal fight to protect her creation after her idea was stolen." - Publishers Weekly

"...a delightful picture book biography of a little known inspiring woman.... I love stories about smart and determined young women and Kulling's lively text tells an inspiring story about this determined woman who 'never gave up without a fight.' David Parkins' charming illustrations are filled with carefully drawn period details and engaging humor.... Don't miss this really excellent book that opens the door to a multitude of curricular uses." - Bookends, a Booklist Blog

"This is the wonderful story of an early female inventor. Margaret Knight began inventing at the age of 12, when she was working in a cotton mill and created a device that made looms safer. But her most famous invention is one we're all familiar with - she created a machine that made flat-bottomed paper bags." - Ten Great Science Books for Kids, Smithsonia.com

Publishers Weekly
Third in the Great Idea series, this concise introduction to trailblazing American inventor Margaret “Mattie” Knight (1838–1914), reveals a woman committed to living life on her own terms, unafraid to fight for her successes. In clean, straightforward prose, Kulling explains how Knight’s interest in and knack for machines was present even at a young age; after witnessing a colleague’s injury while working in a cotton mill at age 12, Knight devised a safety mechanism that gained widespread use. Paired with Parkins’s detailed and handsome pen-and-ink illustrations, the book focuses on Knight’s invention of a paper bag–manufacturing machine and her legal fight to protect her creation after her idea was stolen. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Margaret Knight, known as Mattie, grew up at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Her father died when she was three-years-old. As did many children of that time, when she was twelve-years-old Mattie went to work at a textile mill. By then she had already invented a number of items, including kites and sleds. A mill accident sent Mattie to the drawing board to invent a safety device for looms. Her major achievement, however, was the invention of a machine that created square-bottom paper bags. Here is the story of her invention and court case to receive the patent. Kulling keeps her text lively. Her carefully chosen words make this an accessible first biography for primary grade children. It is also a good book to keep in mind for older readers who are learning to read. Full page illustrations provide details of time and place as well as clues for the text. The full-color cartoon style engages the reader with marvelous facial expressions. Interesting information about child labor, nineteenth century mills and factories, patents, and attitudes toward girls and women of the era are all seamlessly woven into the text. One of the titles Kulling cites in her Sources of Information list is Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully (2006). The McCully book includes more of Margaret's inventions and two of her patent drawings and is an excellent introduction to this inventor. The Kulling book includes dates and is written in a simpler style for the emerging reader. Both deserve a place on the shelf. The story of a woman who had over ninety inventions and twenty patents in her lifetime is a welcome addition to the interesting "Great Idea Series." Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—This portrait of Knight chronicles her process in inventing the machine that made the flat-bottomed paper bag and, at the age of 12, the shuttle cover for cotton-mill machinery. The narration is clear and well paced, bringing to light the trouble facing female inventors in the 1800s. Pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations depict people realistically in a style that brings to mind a less-whimsical Marla Frazee. However, there is too much fictionalizing for the book to work as a biography. Knight's feelings, as well as dialogue and even incidents, are represented so frequently that the book feels more like fiction than fact. While this title could work for a thematic unit, perhaps on groundbreaking women or inventors, it is an additional purchase.—Heather Talty, formerly at Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School, New York City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770495159
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Series: Tundra Great Idea Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 351,383
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.20 (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 Photograph, illustrated by Bill Slavin, was the first in Tundra's Great Idea Series. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto. The author lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Award-winning artist David Parkins has illustrated more than fifty books for children. He began his career at Dyfed College of Art in Wales, where he studied wildlife illustration. From there, he attended the Lincoln College of Art. Upon graduation, he became a freelance illustrator who spent many years drawing for the British children's comic The Beano and producing illustrations for several educational publishers. David Parkins is the illustrator of the critically acclaimed Clip-Clop by Eleanor Koldofsky.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 22, 2011

    This Girl Has Grit!

    This Girl Has Grit!
    A master at writing biographies for young readers, Monica has written three books for the Great Idea Series, published by Tundra Books. I have to say, "In The Bag: Margaret Knight Wraps It Up" is my favorite book in the series to date.

    Like many children growing up in the 1850s, Mattie began working at age 12 to help support her family. Working at a cotton mill, she witnesses a terrible accident as a shuttle flies off the loom, injuring a young worker. Mattie wondered if anything could be done to help make the looms safer. It turns out, Mattie has a mind for solving problems and a knack for building things. In fact, she made the best kites and sleds in town! In hopes to make the shuttles safer to operate, Young Mattie invents a special shuttle cover. The factory owner is duly impressed and installs the stop motion device in all his looms. Unfortunately, Mattie is too young to register a patent. Worse, no one believes a child-and a girl, no less - could invent such a device.

    Mattie, however, does not give up her love of inventing machines. By the time she's thirty, she has become an independent woman. While working at a paper-bag factory, Mattie has another great idea: to build a machine that would cut, fold and paste a flat-bottom bag. After years of trial and error, Mattie succeeds in creating the design. Before she can patent it, however, she needs to build an iron model. But nobody believes a woman can think of such a design, much less make it work. As she struggles to find someone to help build her model, the scandalous Charles Annan steals her idea. Now, Mattie must fight to prove she is the designer!

    Monica's lively narrative brings the indomitable Mattie to life. Mattie does not give up! This is an engaging, inspiring easy read aloud.

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