By: Ryan Jacobson
Publisher: Lerner Publishing
Publication Date: August 2013
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2013
Checkers? Oh, how boring. A couple of hundred years ago kids loved games like that, but if they lived today you could show them some really awesome things. If you think 3-D is something modern, you may have to rethink that one. Kids used to look at a handheld 3-D stereoscope and by 1903 they could watch 3-D films of a train and “some viewers totally freaked out.” Of course you’d know the train wasn’t going to pop off the screen and into the audience, but they didn’t. There are plenty of other tamer inventions that those kids might enjoy with you, including sports items such as the tennis ball and baseball glove. They had gloves in the 1870s, but they were a much different critter than the Rawlings glove you might have.
The stories of how entertaining inventions came to be are quite interesting. In 1922 eighteen-year-old Ralph Samuelson was bored. Very bored. What to do? Well, he figured “if he could ski on snow, he could ski on water too.” You guessed it, Ralph invented water skis. Of course they are much more sophisticated today, but try, try, again and he finally was skiing across the surface of the water. One of the more modern inventions is the monster truck. Bob Chandler thought it would be cool to add “big wheels to his pickup, and the monster truck was born.” You’ll learn about Bigfoot (Bob’s monster truck) along with eleven other inventions: 3-D movies, the tennis ball, baseball glove, water skis, roller coaster, football helmet, electric guitar, basketball hoop, Ferris wheel, skateboard, and instant replay.
This is a fun, fascinating look at the history of a dozen entertainment inventions kids will marvel at. Almost all of the inventions discussed in this book have a lot of interesting history behind them. Far from modern, some of these inventions such as the game of tennis were played in ancient times. Each invention is discussed on one page accompanied by photographs on the opposite one. The layout is simple and the history and text aimed toward the young, confident reader. Captions and sidebars add additional information to some of the historical vignettes. For example, one talks more about Bob Chandler and his monster truck “Bigfoot.” In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, and additional book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: Curious youngsters will love to check out these inventions and learn about their unusual histories!