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Snowmobile: Bombardier's Dream Machine

Overview

In 1922, when Joseph-Armand Bombardier was fifteen years old he built his first snow vehicle. He had always loved to tinker with motors and make things go, and he dreamed of building a vehicle that could go over snow. His first attempt, using a Model T Ford engine and a wooden propeller, worked well. To Joseph-Armand’s mind, anyhow. Not so much his father, who made him take the contraption apart. Over the years, Joseph-Armand dreamed of becoming a great mechanic and inventing machines. But when his young son died...
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Snowmobile: Bombardier's Dream Machine

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Overview

In 1922, when Joseph-Armand Bombardier was fifteen years old he built his first snow vehicle. He had always loved to tinker with motors and make things go, and he dreamed of building a vehicle that could go over snow. His first attempt, using a Model T Ford engine and a wooden propeller, worked well. To Joseph-Armand’s mind, anyhow. Not so much his father, who made him take the contraption apart. Over the years, Joseph-Armand dreamed of becoming a great mechanic and inventing machines. But when his young son died of a fever because it was impossible to get to the hospital over the snow-covered roads, Joseph-Armand applied his single-minded determination to building a vehicle that could go over snow. It took years, but he accomplished his goal. His invention changed the way people in snow country lived. Inaccessible roads could now be travelled, taking patients to hospitals, doctors and priests to the needy, children to school, and even mail to residents.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Enid Portnoy
Perhaps an emergency calls for better solutions than one imagines at the time? This biography introduces Joseph-Armand, a man who loved machines. During the 1900’s no one had yet invented a vehicle that could move over Canada’s deep snow. Joseph-Armand invented a sled-like vehicle when he was fifteen, but it could not be relied on for heavy, drifting snow. Finally, at seventeen, Joseph-Armand decided to travel to Montreal, the big city, to fulfill his dream of becoming a mechanic. He went to mechanics’ class by day and got a car mechanic’s night job. After two years, he took the train back to his small town, hoping his family would not be angry with him for leaving to develop his own skills. Soon he and his father built a garage to fix cars and tractors. One winter, and a young family surrounds an ill two-year-old with a high fever in the 1900’s in Canada. There had to be a way to transport the baby to a hospital quickly. The boy’s father, Joseph-Armand, loved machines and motors but could not solve his family’s problem. The baby was dying right before his father’s eyes, but what could be done? Joseph-Armand’s dream was made real as he worked on inventing the first snowmobile. In 1937 he produced one that would move easily through snowy weather. People all over the world would never have to suffer snow emergencies like the one that killed his son. His dream turned into the safest and sleekest snow vehicle that he continually improved upon until 1964 when he died. What reader has not heard, seen, or played with a model of a snowmobile, admiring the shape of it and use in snowy weather? The “Author’s Note” at the end of the book is very unusual in its tone. He speaks directly to the reader, explaining what is real and what he created when he wrote the book. It is filled with pencil and oil black-and-white drawings that seem old fashioned yet add to the simplicity and directness of Joseph-Armand’s life. His honesty in setting a goal and working hard to achieve it will serve as an example for young people. In addition, the book is an excellent biography to which young readers will be attracted. It offers fascinating pictures showing the development of early snowmobiles. Reviewer: Enid Portnoy; Ages 8 to 14.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Joseph-Armand Bombardier was a gifted mechanic and inventor who received his first patent in 1937. Beginning with the dire situation of a sick child, snow, and no way to get to the doctor, Older introduces the man who invented the snowmobile. Bombardier's childhood and early days as a student mechanic in Montreal and his many attempts to find the right way to travel on snow are presented in short, clear chapters. Full-page ink and pencil illustrations appear throughout. An author's note clarifies aspects of the book that are fact and those that are fiction, such as the dialogue. This biography-cum-adventure-story will appeal to reluctant readers.—Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
Kirkus Reviews
The quest to invent a skimobile, which burned in one man's heart as fiercely as the Holy Grail, as researched and re-imagined by Older. Older tells the story of Joseph-Armand Bombardier in the unhurried manner of a river approaching the sea, allowing for plenty of twists and turns as it goes its leisurely way. Bombardier was a boy of his time, and his time--the early years of the 20th century--was all about engines. Link that to his home place--Quebec, where it snowed like crazy for seven months a year and no one bothered to plow the few roads--and his drive to create a snow vehicle is as understandable as might be his love for hot chocolate. The author charts his route from his small village to Montreal, his journeymanship as a mechanic, his marriage and the loss of his son because he couldn't get him to the hospital through the winter drifts. His gradual fashioning of his workhorse snow machine "to carry doctors to patients, priests to parishioners, children to school" unfolds naturally. It's a warm story, made toastier still by Lauritano's spare, retro drawings, which are complemented by period photographs. An affectionate author's note parses fact from fiction and is followed by a timeline, a bibliography, glossary and index. From any perspective, Older's yeomanly tale of the snow vehicle's birth is as worthy to know as the inspiration of the Iditarod. (Fiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580893350
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2012
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 958,113
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 700L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

When Jules Older isn't skiing or snowmobiling, he's writing children's books. His books include PIG, COW and ICE CREAM. He lives in San Francisco, California.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Death Hangs in the Air 1

Chapter 2 Things Go Bang 5

Chapter 3 First Try 10

Chapter 4 Leaving Home 15

Chapter 5 Good with Motors 20

Chapter 6 Father and Son Reunion 26

Chapter 7 Enter Yvonne 31

Chapter 8 Snowmobile Fever and Bombardier Flu 35

Chapter 9 Snowmobile! 39

Chapter 10 What Happened Next 43

Author's Note 52

Timeline 55

Bibliography 56

Index 58

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