Children's Literature - Kristin HarrisI love it, a series of books about the evolution of common household items. What better way to demonstrate that necessity is the mother of invention. Most kids, in fact most of us, have never given a minute's thought to the development something as mundane as a toaster. But toasting actually plays an important role in the history of humans and food. Bread, as the main food of many peoples in ancient times, had one major draw back. It spoiled within a few days. Mold spores in the air would land on the bread, and the moist environment was a good home for the spores. Eating moldy bread can make people sick. The best way to keep the bread from getting moldy was to dry it. Cooks have been toasting bread since 2600 BC The first toasting devices were forks, with major advances in toasting occurring with the development of wood and coal stoves in the mid 1800's. But the major breakthrough in toasting technology didn't come until 1925, when the first toaster was invented that ejected the toast when it was done. All earlier versions required careful human attention to turn the toast to keep it from burning. Cleverly illustrated with vintage samples and photographs. Other titles in the "Household History" series focus on eyeglasses, teddy bears, vacuum cleaners, irons, and shoes.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 3-6-With full-color photographs and reproductions, useful diagrams and drawings, and lively texts, these titles heighten interest in and understanding about familiar items. Alphin provides a solid introduction to two household appliances, tracing their history, important technological developments, and roles in popular culture. Irons catches readers' interest with a magnified photograph of the parasites that can grow on wet laundry. Many little-known and interesting facts are shared along with plenty of visuals that illustrate changes in these devices through the years. Toasters also grabs attention by discussing and illustrating mold and yeast as they affect bread. Beginning with bartering, Young traces the history of money up to the present-day use of checks, credit cards, and electronic technology. He also discusses how the currency used in the U.S. is minted and measures intended to prevent counterfeiting. All of the books have helpful glossaries and indexes, as well as one or more engaging activities. These abundantly illustrated titles, excellent for doing research and reports, will fill a need in units on inventions and other social-science topics.-Stephani Hutchinson, Pioneer Elementary School, Sunnyside, WA
Kirkus ReviewsWho would have thought that the toaster would ever achieve status as a cultural icon? Yet, in four short and snappy chapters, Alphin (Vacuum Cleaners, 1997, etc.) and the Household History series (see Young, below) continue to prove that even the most mundane appliance is worthy of serious study. Readers curious about the mechanics of toasters will learn the details of how plain bread is transformed into warm and nourishing breakfast food through the magic of trip plates, timer strips, and browning controls. Alphin's description of the development of the modern toaster, accompanied by plentiful photographs and illustrations of early models, is both comprehensive and fascinating. The icing on the cake, or rather the jam on the toast, is a selection of simple recipes for comfort food favorites. (glossary, index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 8-11)
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