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Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor Hardcover – February 21, 2006


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Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor + Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women + Rosie Revere, Engineer
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 6
  • Lexile Measure: 720L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: Texas Bluebonnet Master List 2008-2009
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (February 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374348103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374348106
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.3 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,066 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 3–This story of the first woman to receive a U.S. patent makes an excellent introduction to inventors and Womens History Month. Knight used tools inherited from her father to design and build her inventions. As a child, she was always sketching one of her brainstorms for toys and kites for her brothers. She once designed a foot warmer for her mother. Although it was never patented, Knights design for a safer loom saved textile workers from injuries and death. Later as an adult, she fought in court and won the right to patent her most famous invention, a machine that would make paper bags. Matties story is told in a style that is not only easy to understand, but that is also a good read-aloud. The watercolor-and-ink illustrations capture the spirited inventor and support the text in style and design. Their sketchy quality works well with the pen-and-ink drawings of inventions at the bottom of the pages. While most of these are simulated, the actual drawings from the 1871 patent for the paper-bag machine are included. The text has some fictional dialogue that makes Mattie more real to young readers without compromising the facts. An authors note gives additional biographical information about this creative woman. This is not the best source for reports, but it will inspire interest in women and children as inventors. Its a good reminder that nonfiction isnt just for reports. It pairs nicely with Marlene Targ Brills Margaret Knight: a Girl Inventor (Millbrook, 2001).–Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

K-Gr. 3. McCully took on a challenge in this picture-book biography of "The Lady Edison"--little-known, nineteenth-century inventor Margaret E. Knight. Knight created the machine that makes paper grocery sacks. Her invention isn't instantly attention-grabbing stuff for young people, but McCully draws children into Knight's life by emphasizing not only her engineering triumphs but also her resolute stance against the restrictive gender roles of her time. She begins with Knight's childhood, when the young "Mattie" sketched prolifically, built inventions, and proposed safety devices for the New Hampshire textile mills where her family worked. As an adult, Mattie continued to work on her inventions until her paper-bag machine idea was stolen. A court scene between the belligerent thief and Mattie emphasizes the inherent discrimination women of the era faced: "Miss Knight could not possibly understand the mechanical complexities of the machine," the scornful thief tells the judge. Still, Mattie wins her case at the book's jubilant close. A one-page biography, which includes Knight's later accomplishments, completes the account. Watercolor scenes invoke the drama, and a banner of sketches showing various inventions runs along several pages. A short bibliography closes. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Emily Arnold McCully was born left-handed in Galesburg, Illinois. She was a dare-devil tree-climber and ball-player who loved to write stories and illustrate them. Her family moved to New York City and then to a suburb, where she attended school. After college at Brown University, she earned a Master's degree at Columbia University in art history. She worked as a freelance illustrator for magazines, advertisements and book publishers until a radio station commissioned a series of posters showing children playing. The first appeared in subway cars, where it was seen by a children's book editor. It launched a long career, first as an illustrator, then as author/illustrator of picture books. McCully won a Caldecott Medal in 1993. She has two grown sons, one grandson and lives in New York City and Columbia County, N.Y., where she grows flowers and vegetables.

Customer Reviews

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An elementary librarian recommended this book to me and I bought it for my elementary school as well.
Susan Carmalt
It also shows children the importance of recording work they do and documenting failures as well as successes.
G. McVaugh
My children and I love Emily Arnold McCully's `Mirette and Bellini' books and this story was a hit as well.
Barbarino

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on April 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Emily Arnold McCully's Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became An Inventor is based on the true story of a female inventor around the turn of the century, but reads like fiction and thus is featured here. Mattie loves to make things at an early age and loves to invent whenever a challenge comes up - but she lives during a time when women are believed to be unable to understand mechanical concepts. Her battle for recognition brought her all the way to the patent office and makes for a lively story of one girl's determination to succeed against all gender odds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan Carmalt on June 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An elementary librarian recommended this book to me and I bought it for my elementary school as well. Stories details encourage students to think about life of a young woman during the industrial age as well as being an inventor. Multiple lessons can be off shoots from reading this book. Book could be read alone by 4-5 graders but read aloud to younger grades.
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By The Book Nosher on May 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Marvelous Mattie is the story of Margaret Knight, who was the first woman to be issued a U.S. patent for her invention of the flat-bottomed paper bag machine. And it was issued in 1871, a period when women's roles were narrow and prescribed.

Born into a poor family, Mattie was always curious as to how things worked. Sketching away in her notebook, she designed and built kites that flew higher and sleds that slid faster. She even made her mother a foot warmer. At the age of twelve, Mattie went to work in a mill. After a young girl was practically killed in front of her eyes, she realized how dangerous it was and invented a safety device that saved workers from injury and death.

Later, she went to work in a paper bag factory. She saw that the quality of the bags was poor (they didn't stand upright so the grocer had to use one hand to hold them open and they often split when filled with bulky items). So Mattie went to work on a design for a better bag. For two years she worked on her idea, sketching away and making paper bag cut-outs of her machine. She finally built a prototype out of wood. Just as she was getting ready to apply for a patent she heard that someone had stolen her idea. She went to court to prove it was her design, and she eventually won.

Marvelous Mattie is a good read aloud book for a first, second or third grader. The watercolor-and-ink drawings are a nice fit with the Industrial Age time period. Plus, an added bonus is that the book features some of her actual drawings from the paper bag patent.

A book like this will open up kids' eyes to all the inventions surrounding them on a day to day basis. Have them examine a paper bag closely so they can see everything that went into the design. Mattie's invention is still used today in making paper bags.
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By Ulyyf on June 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You've probably never heard of Margaret E. Knight before. And yet you are intimately familiar with something she invented, a device used every day.

Mattie invented a machine to make paper bags that would stand up on their own.

What, you were hoping for something a little more exciting? More... worthwhile, perhaps? You want to know what the heck kinda invention is THAT? It's a USEFUL invention, is what it is, and it had the potential to make people rich... which is probably why a man tried to steal it from her before it could be patented, assuming everybody would believe him when he said a woman couldn't possibly understand the complexity of the machine.

She was, in fact, the first woman awarded a US patent, and she invented several other things that the book doesn't really touch on.

The book is well-enough written, and the story is a simple and fairly useful one. If nothing else, you can read it during Women's History Month and move off the treadmill of the same three or four tired old names.
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By G. McVaugh on October 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This non-fiction book sites a wonderful example of how a young girl can be successful in an arena that was dominated by men during her time. It also shows children the importance of recording work they do and documenting failures as well as successes. As a teacher, I stressed the need for my students to record their findings, illustrate their work and write down their thoughts on what to do next. It is a great "read aloud" book for elementary science classes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I checked out Escape of Oney Judge and Mirette on the High Wire a few weeks ago from the library. Loved them so much I researched the author's other books and found this one. My four-year old was fascinated today, wanted to read it twice and talked about inventing all day long. We had learned about inventors a few weeks ago and I had pointed out that a poster I had ordered, with thirty or so inventors, had no women! So to read this true, wonderful story about a woman inventor I think really inspired and excited my daughter. I have ordered all of this author's books and am so glad to find someone who is researching true stories of American woman heroes and writing lovely picture books about them. The illustrations are just precious, with the inventions running along the bottom of the page. FABULOUS.
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By Abby McCarthy on April 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gave to my niece as her b-day gift and she loved it! Don't miss out! Completely recommend this book to all!!!
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