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Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World Hardcover – September 10, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 2-5–Although Edison's inventions are celebrated in many children's books, his rival, Nikola Tesla, receives little attention. Rusch's picture-book biography starts to correct that inbalance. From childhood experiments through college studies, Tesla exhibited an interest in electricity. By the time he designed his alternating current (AC) system, he had moved from Eastern Europe to Paris but could find no investors to fund his projects. Convinced that Edison would recognize AC's value, Tesla came to America. Rather than welcome him, Edison set out to discredit AC because it threatened the direct current (DC) power stations he owned. Tesla's breakthrough came when Westinghouse, which used his inventions, won the bid to supply electricity to the Chicago World's Fair. That success was followed by Tesla's achievements in harnessing power generated by Niagara Falls to supply electricity for New York cities. Dramatic incidents such as Tesla's lighting a bulb with his hand are explained in scientific notes at the end. Diagrams and text clarify how AC and DC work, and Rusch stresses the dangers of experimenting with electricity. She provides source notes for quotations and offers detailed explanations of the Tesla-Edison rivalry and of other Tesla inventions. Dominguez's gouache and acrylic illustrations include impressive panoramas of the World's Fair and Niagara Falls, but the people lack animation. A more serious problem is the failure to provide historical context. There are no dates in the text itself, and there is no time line. Despite this oversight, most libraries should consider purchasing the book for its clear biographical details reinforced by scientific explanations. Students might compare Rusch's presentation with one or more books about Edison.–Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankatoα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Thomas Edison’s name may be better known, but as the man who made alternating current a practical means of delivering electrical power, Tesla has had a far greater influence on our world. Rusch highlights the Serbian-born inventor’s lifelong fascination with electricity as she traces his training, bitter rivalry with Edison (whose attempts to market direct current as the “safer” choice ultimately failed), and the spectacular triumph wiring the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Along with lucid explanations of AC’s advantages over DC, Rusch closes with an analysis of Tesla’s significance, plus simplified descriptions of his best-known demonstrations and devices—prefaced by a cogent, strongly worded warning about fiddling with electrical current. There’s also a bountiful resource list. Less illuminating is the graphite and gouache art, which has lightning striking low spots rather than higher ones and shows Tesla arriving in New York as the Brooklyn Bridge was being built (he actually arrived a year after it opened). Still, this may be the first time readers have met Tesla, and this portrait gives them a solid appreciation for his talents and achievements. Ed: needs cataloging. Grades 3-5. --John Peters
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 8.11.2013 edition (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763658553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763658557
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.4 x 11.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ELIZABETH RUSCH is an award-winning children's book author and magazine writer. She writes both fiction and nonfiction in the areas of science, art, sports, waves, jokes, crayons, and mud -- anything that catches her fancy.

Her recent title, The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a Junior Library Guild selection, has garnered starred reviews from The Horn Book, School Library Journal, Booklist and Kirkus, which called the book "enthralling," "stellar," and "edge-of-your-seat reading." It has been named a best book of 2012 by Kirkus, School Library Journal, the New York Public Library, and the Nonfiction Detectives, and was awarded an Orbis Pictus Honor. NSTA named it an Outstanding Science Trade Book. The Mighty Mars Rovers sold out of its first printing in just a few months.

Rusch has three new books out in 2013. Eruption!: Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), a Junior Library Guild selection, has been called "gripping" by the Wall Street Journal, "eye-opening" by School Library Journal (starred review), and "high-stakes science," by Kirkus (starred review.)

Volcano Rising (Charlesbridge), named a Junior Library Guild selection and a Children's Book of the Month Club selection, has been described as "clever and appealing," (Kirkus) and "vibrant and stunning," (Shelf-employed). The Horn Book rightly points out that the book "directly confronts a common misconception" about volcanoes.

Kirkus has called the picturebook biography Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up The World (Candlewick) "a lively introduction to the life of an important figure in technology, someone whose ideas are still at the center of today's world."

In its starred review, Publishers' Weekly described Rusch's nonfiction picture book biography, For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart (Tricycle Press/Random House) as "a moving portrait of an unsung musician." Kirkus, in its starred review, called it "an extraordinarily constructed work." The Oregonian named the book "a masterpiece." It is in its second printing.

Rusch began her professional writing career as an editor and writer for Teacher Magazine, a national award-winning magazine for elementary and secondary school teachers. That inside view of how magazine publishing worked gave Rusch what she needed to know to become a successful full-time freelance writer. She has published more than 100 articles in numerous national magazines for children and adults. Her publishing credits include Muse, Read, American Girl, Harper's, Smithsonian, Mother Jones, Parenting, and Backpacker, among many others.

After spending nearly a decade writing about children, Liz was itching to write for children. Her first book, Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World (Beyond Words/S&S) was a Smithsonian magazine Notable Children's Book and a finalist for the International Reading Association's Children's Book Award and the Oregon Book Award. It has been published in Korean and in audio book and is still in print more than a decade after publication.

Will It Blow?: Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens (Sasquatch) was a Natural History magazine Best Book for Young Readers, a Washington Reads pick, and a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. It has been reprinted in hardcover.

Her nonfiction picturebook biography The Planet Hunter: The Story behind what Happened to Pluto (Rising Moon) which the L.A. Times called "a fascinating tale, charmingly told" was also an Oregon Book Award finalist and has been published in Korean.

Rusch's picturebook, A Day with No Crayons (Rising Moon) won the Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children's Literature and was a finalist for the Illinois children's choice award. The San Francisco Chronicle called the book "a gem," and The Detroit Free Press described it as "a great story of imagination and inspiration." The book has been published in Korean and is in its third printing.

Forthcoming books include a middle-grade graphic novel called Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek to be published by AMP! for Kids and a Scientists in the Field book on ocean energy called The Next Wave due out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Also in the works are books on glass artist Dale Chihuly and planet-saving chemist Mario Molina as well as a middle-grade novel called April Fool.

Rusch's literary awards include the Kay Snow Literary Award, a Maggie Award, and an Oregon Literary Fellowship, among others. She teaches nonfiction and children's literature at the Attic Institute and speaks widely at schools and writing conferences. To learn more about her books, articles, awards, school visits, and speaking engagements, please visit her website at www.elizabethrusch.com. Elizabeth Rusch is a member of the Ink Think Tank and blogs about nonfiction writing on the Interesting Nonfiction for Kids blog at www.inkrethink.blogspot.com. You can also read the blog about critique and the writing process run by her talented critique group the Viva Scrivas at vivascriva.com.

Liz lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, her two children, and her dog Reba.

- Taken from www.elizabethrusch.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Young Mensan BookParade on November 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Nikola Tesla was an inventor and genius. He created lots of things we use today. I love this book! It is so cool. Other kids will love this book, too. They will be really interested because they'll be able to learn about electricity and Nikola's life. This is a picture book (the pictures are well drawn and I like them) but there are huge words in it and a lot of information about science and history so it's for 8-year-olds and older.

My favorite part was when Tesla lit up the Chicago World Fair. It seemed magical to people and looked spectacular. I also loved the part at the Great Hall of Electricity when Tesla held a wire in his hand and he glimmered with sparks of light! More than 250,000 volts went across him and he wasn't hurt! Nikola always wanted to use water power and he finally did it! I really liked that part, too. At the end of the book, there are "scientific notes" and facts about this impressive inventor. Electrical Wizard really tells about how Nikola lit up the world. I give this book 5 stars definitely!

Review by Connor C., age 6, Boston Mensa
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. Marsh on February 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My eight-year-old daughter had no problems reading this book for her report. I had only to explain a few concepts like the differences between alternating and direct current so she better understood Tesla as an inventor and historical figure.

Heck, I even learned some things too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Hugs Are Fun on January 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover
The book begins by describing Tesla’s childhood and different ways in which he experimented and explored electricity from and early age. One of the big things stressed in the book is Tesla’s persistence, constantly showing how his hard work and determination paid off.

The story covers many of the highlights of Tesla’s life – A/C power, his feud with Edison, Niagara Falls, the Chicago World’s Fair. The book covers some negatives, I was surprised to see mention of Topsy the elephant. It does end on a high note, though, and doesn’t mention the tragic circumstances under which Tesla lived his final years.

The illustrations are beautiful and really capture the feeling of the era. It’s obvious that Oliver Dominguez did a lot of research into the clothing and style of the era. And I was pleased to see Mark Twain make an appearance.
At the end of the book there is more information about Tesla, his rivalry with Edison, and a section of scientific notes.
It is a great addition for older kids to learn more about electricity and how some of Tesla’s inventions work. There is also a bibliography and further reading list that I found very interesting. Some of the books I already own, but there were a few that I am definitely interested in checking out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By kristin on April 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a wonderful way to introduce children to Tesla. My 9 year old daughter found it interesting and really enjoyed the illustrations. Some of the vocabulary was a little challenging for her but all in all, she was able to understand the material presented within the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Schnatz on January 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Electrical Wizard introduces younger readers to the fascinating and awe-inspiring Nikola Tesla, a scientist and inventor who is often overshadowed by Thomas Edison in history books. The story and illustrations provide a glimpse into what life was like around the turn of the century, and explains why Tesla’s ideas were so revolutionary. The book includes an excellent section on the basic principles of electricity, which helps make Tesla’s work accessible to grade-school readers. The bibliography provides a number of great resources for people who want to know more about the great inventor.

This book is sure to spark the imaginations of young readers and scientists!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By HoustonMom on March 4, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
wonderful book to introduce my son to my favorite inventor. has some nice explanations in the back of the book as well. talks about electrocuting elephants so may not be suitable for some kids.
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Format: Hardcover
I stumbled across this book in the new books rack at the public library, and picked it up for my own interest. However, even though my 4 year old daughter is well below the recommended 7-10 age level, she was also drawn in by the engaging artwork and it stimulated some basic conversations about lightning, electricity, and lights. For older children, I anticipate that this book will stimulate curious minds on to fascination with science. Nikola Tesla is such a compelling figure because of his expansive imagination, curiosity, and will to harness the forces of nature to power an array of inventions that he engineered. He also took some stunning risks, and was remarkably successful. An underlying theme of the book is Tesla's preference for alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC)--which led to a bitter clash with Thomas Edison. The back of the book provides several interesting appendices, which give more of the back story, and scientific notes that explore in further depth some of the concepts presented in the book. A great book to spur young minds on to science and invention!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Kane on April 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Super interesting and informational book about Tesla and his inventions, it's a large book almost like for kids but was still good
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