From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 2–4—Focusing on the great inventor's youth, roughly from age eight to mid-20s, this anecdotal picture-book biography is both engaging and accessible. The concise narrative is sprinkled with original quotes and is well suited as a read-aloud. Youngsters will find much to relate to, from Tom's being misunderstood at school—his mother decided to homeschool him—to the science experiments he and a friend performed in the basement. Not surprisingly, there is also much to inspire and admire; Edison was a voracious reader and a hard worker—by age 12 he worked 14 hours a day as a "news butch," selling newspapers, candy, and cigars on the Detroit commuter train. After heroically rescuing the young son of a telegraph operator from an approaching train, he was rewarded with telegraph lessons. When he was 21, he took a job in Boston and found his calling. Despite some early failures as well as losing his hearing, Edison earned 1093 patents in his lifetime but insisted that, "I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun." Brown's signature sketches combine digital imagery and watercolors and reflect the period costume and key moments in Edison's early life. This title is for a younger audience than Michael Dooling's Young Thomas Edison
(Holiday House, 2005).—Barbara Auerbach, PS 217, Brooklyn, NY
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Brown's picture-book account of Thomas Edison's childhood begins with a heartening description common to many of history's great minds: he was a poor student. His mother withdrew him from school after a daydreaming incident: ‘Addled,' the teacher said—another way of calling Tom confused or stupid. Of course, he was anything but, and once he gained an appreciation of good books, he took it upon himself to read everything he could get his hands on. His life of invention began in his cellar laboratory and carried over to conducting chemistry experiments during downtime at his job selling papers and cigars on commuter trains. It all really clicked, though, when he started working with the newfangled telegraph. The book ends at the (literally) lightbulb moment when he finds out what the world needs, then decides to go ahead and invent it. Brown's always jaunty scribbly artwork nicely captures the thoughtful boy Edison in this gentle nudge pushing kids to take learning into their own hands and run with it. An author's note fleshes out his career. Grades 1-3. --Ian Chipman