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Kirkus ReviewsThis innovative collection in the American Profiles series focuses on the history of the process of invention as told through the accomplishments of ten notable women.
Altman (Amelia's Mother, 1993, etc.) can sound boosterish ("invention is the product of an inquiring mind and an active imagination—qualities that women possess and use as well as men") but is convincing when she states that the inventive output of women has "begun to receive the attention it deserves." In the coverage of the thoughts and feelings of inventors through primary sources (letters, diaries, interviews), readers will glean an understanding of the inventor's thought processes—how determination and focus may breed flashes of incite and discovery. Amanda Theodosia Jones maintained that the idea of vacuum canning came to her in a dream; after listening to a speaker with an immaculate personal appearance, Madam C.J. Walker developed hair-care preparation products for African- American women and marketed them door-to-door. Ida Rosenthal, a dressmaker by trade, designed fitted undergarments into women's dresses; when women asked to buy the undergarment without the dress, the Maiden Form brassiere company was born. Bette Graham, a secretary fired for typing the wrong company name on a letter, developed Liquid Paper correction fluid for electric typewriters. Ruth Handler developed the Barbie doll when she saw that her own daughter preferred paper dolls that were adults (instead of babies). Through these profiles, Altman shows how ordinary occurrences may lead to extraordinary discoveries.