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Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions Hardcover – July 1, 2000

22 customer reviews

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Toys!: Amazing Stories Behind Some Great Inventions + Mistakes That Worked + The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle: And Other Surprising Stories about Inventions
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8-Wulffson shares the stories behind classic and commercial toy inventions such as Legos, Mr. Potato Head, Raggedy Ann, toy soldiers, Twister, checkers, and remote control cars. Readers will discover that some of the most popular creations were the products of experiments gone awry, thus providing a lesson in persistence, surprise outcomes, and creative thinking. Several pages of history are provided for each plaything, followed by bulleted trivia, such as "The ingredient that gives Play-Doh its distinctive aroma is vanilla." Keller's clever black-and-white cartoons add humor to the already-engaging text. A light read or a lively report source on inventions.
Victoria Kidd, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Wulffson follows up The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle (1997) with the sometimes quirky tales behind more than two dozen novelties, gadgets and games, from playing cards and wind-up toys to Play-Doh. Some (tops, seesaws) have long histories, some (whoopee cushions) only seem to have been around forever, and some (Trivial Pursuit) are of recent vintage. The author brushes in their origins and variations with broad strokes, livening the picture further with factoids at each chapter's end, and Keller's gnomic, black-and-white cartoon figures lighten the tone further by cracking wise on the side. The generalizations may sometimes shade over into oversimplifications (There is even an Asian religion based on kite flying), and there is nothing about Pokémon or other current crazes, but these accounts of the origins of super balls, Raggedy Ann, Legos, Twister, Pong and the like will give middle graders new insight into their parents' misspent youths--and a bibliography and a list of Web sites will give readers who want all the details a head start. (Nonfiction. 9-11) -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 920L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); 1st edition (July 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805061967
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805061963
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #360,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever wondered who invented the bicycle, Legos, and other toys? You can find the answers to many of your questions in this book. I learned so many things I never knew before about a variety of toys,ranging from mechanical toys and toy trains to Twister and Trivial Pursuit to Mr. Potatoe Head and Raggedy Ann. It was a great book, easy to read, and made learning fun. I'm sure both children and adults will be facinated by what they read and learn. Now I want to go out and share the information with everyone I know!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. Sims on July 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a teacher and one of our Science modules is called Ideas and Inventions. I have used this book in my classroom for read-aloud time during this unit. The stories are interesting and to-the-point. The students are as interested in the various Toy origin stories as I am.

I love discussing with them the humble origins that many of the most memorable toys of the last 100 years come from. You don't have to be a genius or wealthy to have a great, original idea.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Toys Amazing stories Behind Great Invemtions is a fantastic book.It's filled with stoies. One of the stories are about toy soldiers Little boys in Europe during the Middle ages played with wooden knights. Little boys in Greece played with clay soldiers.This book is the greates book I ever read. Don Wulffson made this book great. Laurie Keller made the picters great If you want to know how some of your favorite kinds of toys were made you should get this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here is a book that can be read and enjoyed by "children of all ages." Although I purchased it when it first appeared (in 2000) and have since read it with grandchildren ranging in age from two to twelve, I never gave much thought to reviewing it until recently when one of the grandchildren borrowed it to read to a friend who was staying overnight. I'm told that the friend later purchased a copy and also shares it with friends. I guess Emanuel Rosen and Seth Godin (as well as countless others) would characterize this as an example of BUZZ. The concept for this book, written by Don Wulffson, is simple...and brilliant: Briefly explain the origin of several of the most popular toys. They include The Slinky, Lego, Mr. Potato Head, Silly Putty, toy soldiers, Checkers, Play-Doh, and kites.

Did you already know that

"Slinky's most recent accomplishment was in outer space. Bunches have gone aboard space shuttles. The purpose: to test the effects of zero gravity on springs."

"Playing with a four-sided top called a dreidel is a Hanukkah tradition. Each side has a Hebrew letter, and the letter on which the dreidel falls determines of the player wins the prize."

"Ironically, after becoming a popular toy, many practical uses have been found for Silly Putty. Mechanics use it to clean equipment, dry cleaners to remove lint, and zookeepers to make casts of animal footprints for purposes of identification."

"Before the Christian era, the Greeks and Arabs made mechanical toys powered by air, water, or mercury."

"In Europe during the Middle Ages, a `hobby' was a high-spirited, medium-sized breed of horse."

"When China's first emperor, Ch'in Shih Huang Ti, died in 210 B.C., he was buried with eight thousand life-size toy soldiers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tchermommy on February 23, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book for kids and adults! It is so interesting to learn about the history and origins of toys! I recommend this to anyone who is a toy fan! This book is a must for an elementary science classroom when they study inventions!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a pretty good way to get kids interested in science and explain how inventions evolve, as well as just to get their interest. Each little chapter (each on a different invention or type of invention) runs through things in chronological order, then adds some trivia in a bulleted list at the end. I will say that while Amazon lists it as appropriate for grades 3-7, I would agree with the blurbs that place it starting more at the 4th grade level. Third grade students could probably understand it with some support and would really enjoy pieces of it, but a lot of the vocabulary is more appropriate for many 4th or 5th/6th grade levels. I actually read excerpts to my 2nd/3rd grade students and they really enjoyed it, but I had to change some words and skip some pieces to help them understand.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Great for boys and girls, makes you want to brainstorm and invent something while reading it. We borrowed it from the library and now we have it on our holiday wish list. This is something even the parents would want to read! PlayDoh, Toy Soldiers, and Slinky (my fav) are just a few good ones. This is a fun read even for those that aren't into science adventure camp and inventing!
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Having met the James family who created the Slinky, it was great to have that toy begining the book. I knew that it would be spot on accurate. Very informative and entertaining though I think students need to read it in small chunks. Do to all the facts and history, it is a bit overwhelming to take in in larger doses.
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