From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 2–4—This picture-book biography of the inventor of bubblegum is equal parts informative and entertaining. With appropriately simple but engaging prose, McCarthy relates how accountant Walter Diemer began "playing with different mixtures" in the late 1920s at the candy factory where he worked and eventually discovered a gum that bubbled. Judicious use of the inventor's own words helps to convey his enthusiastic personality. Along with Diemer's story, the author also covers a bit of gum history, the trial-and-error of invention, and the excitement that comes with a successful final product, all with just the right level of detail. Appealing acrylic cartoon illustrations fill this snippet of history with a sense of fun. The prominent curves of smiling faces and circular eyes and heads stand out against heavy lines and angles to fill each scene with playfulness that matches the subject. Rich colors capture the lighthearted joy of bubble blowers, both old and young, while contrasting darker tones reflect the drama of the inventor's lab work. A closing spread offers further information about Diemer's life, more fun facts about gum, and a full list of sources. Although the man will be unfamiliar to young readers, they know his invention well, and will appreciate his unexpected but well-earned success. McCarthy's on-target presentation makes this a strong choice for elementary biography assignments, booktalking, or just plain nonfiction fun.—Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, OR
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What a good idea for a book! Kids who enjoy blowing gum bubbles may never have considered how the treat came to be, but here, in easy language and with amusing illustrations, McCarthy changes that. Starting at the Fleer Factory in 1927, the book introduces a young accountant, Walter Diemer, who knew more about numbers than gum. But when a lab is moved next door to his office, Diemer takes an interest in the invention of a new kind of gum. Eventually he develops bubble gum, tries it out at a mom-and-pop store to great success, and launches an enduring American icon. The acrylic paintings portray humor throughout, in part by peopling the book with googly-eyed characters who are often chewing a wad of gum. The story also touches briefly on the origin of gum, and the back matter—a short biography of Diemer, a fact list about gum, and a bibliography, including the sources from which McCarthy got her quotes—adds more info to the attractive package. Grades 1-3. --Ilene Cooper