A Wizard from the Start: The Incredible Boyhood & Amazing Inventions of Thomas Edison

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Overview

A wizard from the start, Thomas Edison had a thirst for knowledge, taste for mischief, and hunger for discovery—but his success was made possible by his boundless energy. At age fourteen he coined his personal motto: “The More to do, the more to be done,” and then went out and did: picking up skills and knowledge at every turn. When learning about things that existed wasn't enough, he dreamed up new inventions to improve the world.
 
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Overview

A wizard from the start, Thomas Edison had a thirst for knowledge, taste for mischief, and hunger for discovery—but his success was made possible by his boundless energy. At age fourteen he coined his personal motto: “The More to do, the more to be done,” and then went out and did: picking up skills and knowledge at every turn. When learning about things that existed wasn't enough, he dreamed up new inventions to improve the world.
 
From humble beginnings as a farmer’s son, selling newspapers on trains and reading through public libraries shelf by shelf, Tom began his inventing career as a boy and became a legend as a man. 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brown (Teedie: The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt) offers a folksy, episodic picture book biography of Edison’s early years, highlighting his entrepreneurial spirit and love of experimentation, while incorporating a wealth of fascinating, little-known anecdotes about the accomplished inventor. At 12, the homeschooled boy worked 14-hour days, hawking newspapers and other items to passengers on trains, and one day started a fire while conducting a chemistry experiment in the baggage car. Tawny-hued, loosely rendered illustrations, which Brown created using digital imagery and watercolors, balance portrayals of Edison’s industrious and mischievous sides. After launching a newspaper business, Edison decided “it was much more fun hanging around telegraph offices.” He quickly honed his skills as a telegraph operator and discovered ways to improve the machinery. Brown’s description of Edison’s first patented invention (an electric vote-recording device) exemplifies the author’s low-key style: “The machine was a flop. No one wanted it.” A sprink-ling of quotations adds Edison’s own voice to the narrative, which is capped by an author’s note touching on achievements and controversies of Edison’s later life. Ages 5-8. (May)
From the Publisher

"Focusing on the great inventor's youth, roughly from age eight to mid-20s, this anecdotal picture-book biography is both engaging and accessible. The concise narrative is sprinkled with original quotes and is well suited as a read-aloud...Brown's signature sketches combine digital imagery and watercolors and reflect the period costume and key moments in Edison's early life."--School Library Journal, starred review

"Brown (Teedie: The Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt) offers a folksy, episodic picture book biography of Edison's early years, highlighting his entrepreneurial spirit and love of experimentation, while incorporating a wealth of fascinating, little-known anecdotes about the accomplished inventor."--Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Tom Edison works hard in the family truck garden. After a teacher treats him cruelly for daydreaming, he is home schooled. He reads widely; he experiments. At twelve he becomes a hawker on the Detroit commuter train while still experimenting, reading, and writing and printing his own newspaper. His hearing fades but his interest in and study of telegraphy leads to jobs in many places. By the age of twenty-two he has quit being an operator and earned his first patent as an inventor. Trying to figure what the world needs leads him to earn 1,093 patents, including the phonograph, motion picture camera, and electric light bulb. Brown's lively text is spiced with direct quotations. His ink line and transparent watercolors with digital imagery add to the human quality of the story. Full-page illustrations describe episodes in Edison's remarkable growth, from asleep at his workbench and his telegraph key surrounded by books, to his risky rescue of a small child from an approaching locomotive. Additional factual notes and a brief bibliography are included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Focusing on the great inventor's youth, roughly from age eight to mid-20s, this anecdotal picture-book biography is both engaging and accessible. The concise narrative is sprinkled with original quotes and is well suited as a read-aloud. Youngsters will find much to relate to, from Tom's being misunderstood at school—his mother decided to homeschool him—to the science experiments he and a friend performed in the basement. Not surprisingly, there is also much to inspire and admire; Edison was a voracious reader and a hard worker—by age 12 he worked 14 hours a day as a "news butch," selling newspapers, candy, and cigars on the Detroit commuter train. After heroically rescuing the young son of a telegraph operator from an approaching train, he was rewarded with telegraph lessons. When he was 21, he took a job in Boston and found his calling. Despite some early failures as well as losing his hearing, Edison earned 1093 patents in his lifetime but insisted that, "I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun." Brown's signature sketches combine digital imagery and watercolors and reflect the period costume and key moments in Edison's early life. This title is for a younger audience than Michael Dooling's Young Thomas Edison (Holiday House, 2005).—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Thomas Edison's mother yanked him out of school when his teacher called her forever-daydreaming son "addled." Homeschooled from that day on, Tom devoured books and experimented in his chemistry lab until Mrs. Edison worried the family would be blown up. In this narrowly focused biography, readers will learn-despite the book's title-that there was nothing magical about the man who patented 1,093 inventions. Edison was a hard worker who was curious about everything, studied diligently for years and was passionate about inventing, especially marketable objects (such as the phonograph and motion-picture cameras) he knew the world needed. Brown's scratchy pen-and-ink drawings with muted watercolors successfully evoke the 19th-century American setting and reveal the industrious young Tom in action-pulling carrots in Michigan, selling newspapers on the Detroit train, printing his own newspaper, haunting telegraph offices, tinkering and, finally, gazing at his 1879 creation, the electric light bulb. This glimmer of the future inventor in his youth-sprinkled with quotations from Edison himself-may inspire a few daydreamers to get to work. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547194875
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/3/2010
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 684,853
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD940L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him “a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies.” He lives in New York with his family.
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