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


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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: 11.4 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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."

More About the Author

KATHLEEN KRULL is well known for her innovative, award-winning nonfiction for young readers, which includes the successful Lives of... series. Kathleen Krull lives in San Diego, CA. Visit her at www.kathleenkrull.com AND http://facebook.com/kathleen.krull

Customer Reviews

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The book itself is an interesting, enlightening, and inspiring read.
Spudman
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.
Z Hayes
This book is an encouraging book for young readers to continue on their determinations no matter how negative people can be.
JessieJessJess

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Ellingwood VINE VOICE on May 30, 2010
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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Format: Hardcover
Philo Farnsworth was an inquisitive boy who had been interested in “anything mechanical” since he was a very small boy. Trains, telephones and phonographs were wondrous and magical inventions that excited and stirred his imagination. It was a passion that his father shared with him. He told his son about Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and their inventions. When his father was temporarily away on a work assignment, Philo, at the tender age of eight, was left in charge of the family. Perhaps as a result, he grew more mature than others his age. Bullies had a tendency to tease him because of his unusual name, but he turned away from them.

He enjoyed reading his grandmother’s Sears, Roebuck catalog and marveling over “cameras, alarm clocks, and machines that used a new, invisible source of power” called electricity. The most he got out of the catalog was a violin at the insistence of his grandmother, which tended to give more fodder for the bullies. There was something about this electricity business and the elusive “television” scientists were working on. Philo’s mind never seemed to stop thinking about it. Wait . . . there was something about the plowed “rows of dirt” that turned a switch on in his fourteen-year-old mind. Was this the solution the scientists had been looking for to make pictures “fly through the air?”

This was a fascinating story of a young man who was nudged out and almost forgotten even though he invented “one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century.” I loved the way the story was told because it gave great insight into Philo’s character and why he was not credited with his invention. The artwork was very “period” looking and quite appealing. The end papers are filled with a large variety of television sets that span the ages. This book is a Junior Library Guild Selection that both old and young alike will enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spudman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 10, 2013
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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By misskris on February 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kids often wonder where and when certain constants in our lives were invented. I think this story does a great job telling about Farnsworth. I will be using it (with other books) to teach a unit on inventions and innovations.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gave this to my six-year old grandson for his birthday and he couldn't wait to start it. He has been loving it.
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By sarah zeinelabdin on April 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My kids loved it, very informative and inspiring, my son was very moved by the book. I recommend it for your summer reading list.
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