The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American Inventor

The Real McCoy: The Life of an African-American Inventor

by Wendy Towle, Wil Clay
     
 
Handsome oil paintings enliven this picture book biography about the little-known inventor who inspired the phrase "the real McCoy." Young readers meet Elijah McCoy and discover how he invented the lawn sprinkler, the rubber heel on a shoe, and more. "A striking introduction to one of the first and most successful African-American inventors."--Booklist, starred review

Overview

Handsome oil paintings enliven this picture book biography about the little-known inventor who inspired the phrase "the real McCoy." Young readers meet Elijah McCoy and discover how he invented the lawn sprinkler, the rubber heel on a shoe, and more. "A striking introduction to one of the first and most successful African-American inventors."--Booklist, starred review.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Elijah McCoy (1844-1929), the child of escaped slaves, was born in Canada and educated in Scotland as an engineer during the Civil War. Settling in Michigan, he was able to find work only as a fireman, stoking the engines of a locomotive and oiling its parts. But his training was not wasted: he invented an automatic lubricator--possibly the original ``real McCoy''--and went on to patent other devices, including the portable ironing board and the lawn sprinkler. He eventually founded the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company but never received his due for his work and died alone in a nursing home. First-time author Towle honors her subject's achievements while acknowledging his meager public recognition, while Clay tones down the dynamism he exhibited in Little Eight John to paint sturdy, luminous images of McCoy in action. McCoy himself provides a compelling example of 19th-century African American achievement in the face of discrimination; this respectful biography is a useful addition to library collections. Ages 5-9. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
In the days when trains had to stop every few miles so that its moving parts could be oiled, many inventors contrived automatic oil cups, including Elijah McCoy. His worked so much better that anyone else's, however, that engineers demanded and expected nothing less than The Real McCoy. Ms. Towle recounts the life and many accomplishments of the African-American inventor whose name became synonymous with perfection.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-- Canadian born Elijah McCoy patented over 50 inventions in his lifetime. Despite the fact that he was trained as a master mechanic and engineer, he could only find work as a fireman/oilman on a railroad, because no one had ever heard of a black engineer in the United States. His automatic oil cup became standard equipment on most trains and heavy machinery, and was so superior to others that people demanded ``the real McCoy.'' The text is compact but contains enough detail and warmth to make the man come to life. The acrylic illustrations are vibrant and full of details that reflect McCoy's years of hard work. A fine addition to any library's biography and/or black history collections. --Christine A. Moesch, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library, NY

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780590481021
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
01/28/1995
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
747,701
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.79(h) x 0.12(d)
Lexile:
NC920L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

When Wil Clay was three years old, he started trying to copy pictures out of the Sunday comics. His mother encouraged his interest, and Clay grew up knowing he wanted to be an artist. He studied art in high school at Macomber Vocational School in Toledo, Ohio, and later at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, the Vesper George School of Art in Boston, and the University of Toledo. Concentrating on graphic arts, he maintained a studio in Providence, Rhode Island, for seven years, and later in Houston, Texas, where he remained for 17 years before returning to his hometown of Toledo to work on fine arts and sculpture.

Clay never really considered working in children's books until 1989, when author Jan Wahl visited his Toledo studio and asked him to illustrate a book. “I thought he was kidding,” says Clay. “It took three visits to my studio for him to convince me that he was serious.” The two produced the popular Tailypo! and later collaborated on Little Eight John, which received the Coretta Scott King Honor Award in 1993. Now he enjoys working on approximately one children's book a year, in addition to his other artwork, and he makes many school visits, entertaining students and teachers alike with his storytelling skills.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >