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The Day-Glo Brothers Hardcover – July 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 990L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2010
  • Hardcover: 44 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157091673X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570916731
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 8.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4–6—Before 1935, fluorescent colors did not exist. Barton discusses how two brothers worked together to create the eye-popping hues. Joe Switzer figured out that using a black light to create a fluorescent glow could spruce up his magic act, so the brothers built an ultraviolet lamp. They began to experiment with various chemicals to make glow-in-the-dark paints. Soon Joe used fluorescent-colored paper costumes in his act and word got around. Through trial and error, the brothers perfected their creation. The story is written in clear language and includes whimsical cartoons. While endpapers are Day-Glo bright, most of the story is illustrated in black, white, gray, and touches of color, culminating in vivid spreads. Discussions on regular fluorescence and daylight fluorescence are appended. This unique book does an excellent job of describing an innovative process.—Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Before 1935, fluorescent colors did not exist. Barton discusses how two brothers worked together to create the eye-popping hues. Joe Switzer figured out that using a black light to create a fluorescent glow could spruce up his magic act, so the brothers built an ultraviolet lamp. They began to experiment with various chemicals to make glow-in-the-dark paints. Soon Joe used fluorescent-colored paper costumes in his act and word got around. Through trial and error, the brothers perfected their creation. The story is written in clear language and includes whimsical cartoons. While endpapers are Day-Glo bright, most of the story is illustrated in black, white, gray, and touches of color, culminating in vivid spreads. Discussions on regular fluorescence and daylight fluorescence are appended. This unique book does an excellent job of describing an innovative process. --School Library Journal, starred review

In this debut for both collaborators, Barton takes on the dual persona of popular historian and cool science teacher as he chronicles the Switzer brothers' invention of the first fluorescent paint visible in daylight. The aptly named Day-Glo, he explains, started out as a technological novelty act (Joe, an amateur magician, was looking for ways to make his illusions more exciting), but soon became much more: during WWII, one of its many uses was guiding Allied planes to safe landings on aircraft carriers. The story is one of quintessentially American ingenuity, with its beguiling combination of imaginative heroes ( Bob focused on specific goals, while Joe let his freewheeling mind roam every which way when he tried to solve a problem ), formidable obstacles (including, in Bob's case, a traumatic accident), a dash of serendipity and entrepreneurial zeal. Persiani's exuberantly retro 1960s drawings splashed with Day-Glo, of course bring to mind the goofy enthusiasm of vintage educational animation and should have readers eagerly following along as the Switzers turn fluorescence into fame and fortune. --Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Switzer brothers were complete opposites. Older brother Bob was hardworking and practical, while younger brother Joe was carefree and full of creative, wacky ideas. However, when an unexpected injury forced Bob to spend months recovering in a darkened basement, the two brothers happened upon an illuminating adventure the discovery of Day-Glo colors. These glowing paints were used to send signals in World War II, help airplanes land safely at night and are now found worldwide in art and advertisements (not to mention the entire decade of 1980s fashion). Through extensive research, including Switzer family interviews and Bob's own handwritten account of events, debut author Barton brings two unknown inventors into the brilliant light they deserve. Persiani, in his picture-book debut as well, first limits the palette to grayscale, then gradually increases the use of color as the brothers' experiments progress. The final pages explode in Day-Glo radiance. Rendered in 1950s-cartoon style, with bold lines and stretched perspectives, these two putty-limbed brothers shine even more brightly than the paints and dyes they created. --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

It's a story in color and about color ... illustrated with tremendous Pop Art verve. --The New York Times

Barton clearly and crisply explains how the two young men managed to work together despite the fact that one wanted to be a magician and the other a physician. ... This engaging picture book makes a bright idea stand out even more. --The Washington Post

More About the Author

My latest book is the cross-generational picture book ATTACK! BOSS! CHEAT CODE! A GAMER'S ALPHABET (2014, POW!), a lively look at the language of video games that might actually bridge the gap between game-obsessed kids and their often-perplexed parents.

My upcoming books for young readers include THE AMAZING AGE OF JOHN ROY LYNCH (2015, Eerdmans), PIONEERS & PIROUETTES: THE STORY OF THE FIRST AMERICAN NUTCRACKER (2015, Millbrook), CARROT HAWK (2016, Disney), WHOOSH! LONNIE JOHNSON'S SUPER STREAM OF IDEAS (2016, Charlesbridge), and the first book in the SUPER TRUCK! series (2016, HarperCollins).

I'm the author of the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller SHARK VS. TRAIN (Little, Brown; 2010; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld). It was a finalist for the 2011 Children's Choice Book Awards and named one of the best books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Parents, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble, and The Bank Street Children's Book Committee. It was a Junior Library Guild selection, received a silver honor from the Parents' Choice Awards, and has won statewide book awards in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

I'm also the author of the American Library Association Sibert Honor-winning THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS (Charlesbridge, 2009; illustrated by Tony Persiani), the biography of the inventors of those daylight-fluorescent oranges, yellows, and greens you see every day. In addition, I'm the author of CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.? TRUE STORIES OF FALSE IDENTITIES, a young-adult nonfiction thriller profiling impostors and other masqueraders (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011).

I'm married to novelist Jennifer Ziegler, and we live with our family in Austin, Texas, where I have advocated for greater diversity in children's literature by cofounding the Modern First Library program with independent bookseller BookPeople. For more information about me, please visit me at http://www.chrisbarton.info.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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I think a lot of kids grow up thinking that great discoveries are intentional.
E. R. Bird
Pair that with the brilliant and colorful illustrations from Tony Persiani and this is a great addition to your bookshelf.
www.firrkids.com
They continued to work on their colors while Joe became even more popular as a magician.
D. Fowler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I think a lot of kids grow up thinking that great discoveries are intentional. People intended to walk on the moon. Edison intended to create a light bulb. Some bloke intended to find a way to can Spam. That's why there's a whole genre of non-fiction picture books out there dedicated to accidental discoveries. People like to tell kids that sometimes greatness is a mistake, not planned or earned. But I think there's a third way of looking at this. What about the people who worked har...more I think a lot of kids grow up thinking that great discoveries are intentional. People intended to walk on the moon. Edison intended to create a light bulb. Some bloke intended to find a way to can Spam. That's why there's a whole genre of non-fiction picture books out there dedicated to accidental discoveries. People like to tell kids that sometimes greatness is a mistake, not planned or earned. But I think there's a third way of looking at this. What about the people who worked hard their whole lives, experimented and tested and mucked about, and then discovered something new and unexpected? These aren't necessarily people who tripped over a genius idea and somehow ended up with a pocket full of cash. People like Bob and Joe Switzer discovered Day-Glo colors because they were curious, thoughtful, and willing to experiment. Now author Chris Barton brings us what is pretty much the world's first biography of the inventors of Day-Glo colors. And what better format to use than the picture book? Works for me.

Bob and Joe had dreams, you know. Big brother Bob wanted to someday become a doctor, while younger sib Joe had a fascination with magic. But Bob's dream came to an abrupt halt when an accident in a railroad car gave him seizures and double vision.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marika Stone on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'd honestly never thought about how Day-Glo colors came to be. They were like packaged, sliced bread and chicken legs wrapped in cellophane at the grocery store...always there in the store all my life, so I never thought much about their genesis. Chris is an uncommonly good writer--I've seen his writing for many years--and has great judgment about what's gonna be interesting to others. He illuminates the childhood dreams and hard work of the Day-Glo brothers in an inspiring way for adults and children. It's fascinating to see how trial and error and a few bits of serendipity helped the brothers along. I love the colors in the book. It shows what happens when you take a careful researcher, an engaging writer, an imaginative use of day-glo color and fun illustrations. You have a book (not just for children) well worth reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on August 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Brothers Robert and Joseph Switzer, inventors of fluorescent paints commonly known as Day-Glo, did not plan to become inventors as they grew up. Bob wanted to become a doctor while Joe had an avid interest in magic. When a serious accident left Bob recuperating from a head injury in their darkened basement while Joe was thinking about how fluorescence could add excitement to his magic acts, the young men started experimenting in the dark with ultraviolet light and chemicals that emitted a glow.

Once they realized that they could use certain chemicals to make glow-in-the-dark paints and sell them for posters and store-window displays, Bob and Joe's idea took off. They worked hard for years to refine their paints and contribute to a host of extremely useful applications, including fabric panels, buoys, and fluorescent suits used to save lives during World War II; as well as numerous products commonly used today, including traffic cones, life vests, magic markers, hula hoops, street signs, and golf balls.

Based on primary sources that include interviews with Bob and Joe Switzer's family members, this carefully-researched book provides a fascinating profile of a material we take for granted and the men who created it. The illustrations, which start in grey-tone and progressively incorporate a range of fluorescent yellow, green, and orange colors, make a striking contribution to the story. This unique book certainly adds a dazzling dimension to our understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By www.firrkids.com on July 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Sometimes it can be difficult to find a non-fiction children's book that can be both educational and entertaining. And even then, most of these are typically about animals or nature. Finding one about an everyday household item is even more unusual. Meet the Day-Glo Brothers.

We are all familiar with the eye-popping greens, yellows and oranges that are created with daylight fluorescents. They appear on life jackets, running shoes, traffic cones, hunting vests, sports equipment and more. But have you ever wondered how this process works or how it was created?

Brothers Bob and Joe Switzer couldn't have been more different. Joe had his sights set on becoming a magician while Bob wanted to be a doctor. Bob's dreams were dashed in an accident at work, when he fell and hit his head, causing seizures and double vision. He began to help Joe expplore the possibilities of using fluorescence to jazz up his magic act. The Switzers built an ultraviolet lamp and started to experiment with chemicals to make glow-in-the-dark paints. These paints only showed up under ultraviolet light, but not in ordinary daylight.

Though trial and hard work, the brothers discovered a process to make those same paints glow in ordinary daylight too! Called "Day-Glo" these were in demand during World War II - used to send signals, mark water buoys, and to aid on lifeboats and aircraft carrier crews. After the war, day-glo colors were marketed to the general public and showed up in our everyday life.

Overall, an excellent and educational book in one package. Pair that with the brilliant and colorful illustrations from Tony Persiani and this is a great addition to your bookshelf. The small details make this a fascinating read, which makes a great story for kids of many ages.
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