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The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth Hardcover – September 8, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 2–5—Endpapers featuring a photo collage of generations of televisions from the earliest oval-screened version to modern flat screens set the book's context. Then, readers are asked to imagine life when there was no TV, radio was only for the military, news was hard to come by, and people studied the Sears, Roebuck catalog to make their purchases. Juxtaposing the staid images of farm life with fanciful ones depicting Farnsworth's broadening vision, Couch draws, paints, and digitally enhances the story. To show the boy learning about inventors as he studies the stars, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell appear among the constellations like ancient Greek heroes. While plowing a field, Farnsworth developed the idea for how television could work, inspired by those parallel furrows as a format to transmit an electronic signal. It is the inventor's passion and genius that come through in this picture-book biography that follows him from the three-year-old who drew schematics of train engines, to the teen who automated the clothes washer so he would have more time to read, to the young man who celebrated his invention. Krull's focus is on the boy genius becoming an inventor like his heroes, and only in a note does she mention his struggles with RCA and his bitterness later in life. The facts aren't new, but with Krull building the story and Couch's exceptional images, it's one to inspire young audiences with the vast possibilities that imagination and diligence can accomplish.—Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library END

Review

Starred Review, School Library Journal, September 2009:
"One to inspire young audiences with the vast possibilities that imagination and diligence can accomplish."

The New York Times Book Review, December 20, 2009:
"Beautiful and beautifully told, the book tracks like the sort of graphic novel that breaks your heart, with its implied passage of time and slipping awawy of early dreams."
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 860L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Young Hoosier Intermediate Awards 2011-2012
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 4th Print edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375845615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375845611
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.3 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,284 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on October 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I had to read several biographies written for a young audience as part of an assignment for graduate school and came across this title. It was an interesting and riveting read, especially so considering I had never even heard of Philo Farnsworth!

This inspiring picture book biography recounts the true life story of Philo Taylor Farnsworth, who was just a 14-year-old farmboy in 1920 when he had a brainstorm. Seeing the plow create rows of overturned earth, Philo found a way to create television by "breaking down images into parallel lines of light, capturing them and transmitting them as electrons, then reassembling them for a viewer." His school teacher, Mr. Tolman encouraged him to go to college where he thought Philo's genius would be given the recognition it deserved. Unfortunately, events would conspire against Philo. He was forced to leave college after his father's death and became his family's main breadwinner.

It was only eight years after his brilliant idea first came to Philo's mind that he was able to realize his dream of transmitting the world's first television image. The book ends at this point though the author's note at the back of the book mentions how Philo triumphed in his bid to invent TV but would not get credit for it during his lifetime. Philo was embroiled in a dispute with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and never did get actual credit for inventing the television, especially since his patents expired and his ideas became public domain. It is an inspiring tale that will serve to fire young people's imaginations and motivate them to invent. Philo Farnsworth has finally received the acknowledgment and recognition denied to him all those years ago.
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Format: Hardcover
Sadly Philo Farnsworth didn't get the credit he deserved for his invention of the television; even posthumously many haven't heard of him. For me Farnsworth's moment of inspiration is gloriously magical. As Philo plowed his potato field the rows of dirt suddenly became parallel lines of light in his mind, lines that combined could form images and electronically sent great distances without wires. It took years, inspired support and monetary backing for the inspiration to become reality when the 22-year-old Philo Farnsworth announced the invention of TV to the world. In his lifetime his fame never materialized because of expired patents and the bullying tactics of giant RCA.

The book itself is an interesting, enlightening, and inspiring read. Despite great odds, one can achieve great things. Text and graphics complement each other well here in a book designated for grade four but also appropriate for those in higher elementary grades.
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Format: Hardcover
We checked this out from our local library, and I read it to my almost-8 and almost-4 year old sons. Obviously, the older one got more out of it, but it was engaging enough for my younger son as well due to the great illustrations and accessible writing style. They were really impressed with the story, and I love it when I can find a book to read to them that I can also learn from. The author does a great job giving the background of Farnsworth's life and explaining how he educated himself. One of the things that always interests my boys is how much more work children did in the past and how much more responsibility they had, and they really enjoyed learning how Farnsworth squeezed his education and invention into his regular routine of farm chores. I'm still a little awed by the idea that the idea of TV basically just came to him as he stared at his neat plow lines, but I guess that's why I'm not a great inventor. Anyway, this is an interesting and engaging book, and I think it pays Farnsworth the respect he deserves.
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Format: Hardcover
The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Greg Couch is yet another wonderful picture book about a young man having the courage to continue and solving science before anyone else! Farnsworth went through his daily life always wondering how the world worked. Philo Farnsworth, the young inventor, develops and then discovers how to transmit images electronically, while plowing the fields, which leads to the invention of the first TV. With the help of his wife, Philo gets his wife to be the first person on TV. The book is a wonderful book that shows courage of a young boy from a young age of three all the way up to a young married man, imagining, creating, and having the will to continue no matter how many people were negative and those who didn't have faith for him. This book is an encouraging book for young readers to continue on their determinations no matter how negative people can be.
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Format: Hardcover
Great book for showing how single-mindedness and industriousness can lead to genius inventiveness.

Great book for showing the heroic labor and incredible amount of time put into success by historical figures such as Edison, Bell, and Farnsworth himself.

Great book about taking chances, taking risks, and making big dreams come true.

Inspire your kids!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A young boy in Utah working as a farmer dreams of a miraculous invention and develops the idea as a very young man. RCA takes the credit and presents it at the 1936 World Fair. Wonderful children's biography and one that people will love. I'd never heard of Philo Farnsworth before. A best kept secret.
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