Written in verse and filled with full-color illustrations drawn by the author, this book invites young readers inside the minds of great inventors, encouraging them to think imaginatively as it offers the origins of items such as roller skates, potato chips, eyeglasses, the vacuum cleaner, and more.
In this edifying volume, Harper (When I Grow Up) explains how such everyday things as gum, skates and potato chips came to be, though she qualifies her research by noting that "creative storytelling and imagination were also used to tell these tales." For instance, piggy banks originated from vessels made of a clay called pygg; Harper speculates, "Some potter probably said,/ after giving it some thought,/ `What if I take my fine pygg clay/ and make a pig-shaped pot?' " High-heeled shoes, which first appeared in 16th-century France, inspire a tall tale about a short king. The vacuum-cleaner's innovator is depicted as a neat freak who tries to inhale dirt from his furniture: "1901 was the year/ that he built his first machine./ It took two men to operate/ but really got things clean." Harper maintains a lighthearted mood by describing each item in doggerel verse. She paints naive portraits of inventors at work, frames each spread with a thematic border and provides trivia about her humble subjects ("The most popular doughnut with kids is the chocolate frosted"). With its crazy-quilt visual patterns, bouncy stanzas and fun facts, this miscellany zigzags between informational and whimsical. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.