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Thursday, July 12, 2012

SUMMER READING: To spark the inventor in you...

Hi guys!

Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers….the place where “when the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world´…or at least that’s what Timon said (you know, from The Lion King?).  (LOL.)  No, really…it’s been a day thus far and although I know I said (or rather tweeted) that I was staying in my virtual hidey hole today, I couldn’t resist sharing a quick review on a book I read just last week.

It’s a storybook detailing the life a of little known (to me anyway) female inventor that will spark the creative fires in many a youngster and bring new pride to adults worldwide; one of those fist pump moments or high five times if you know what I mean…and you shortly will if you don’t already.  Without further ado, let’s take a look at today’s book of choice…

Margaret Knight Wraps It Up
Illustrated by
David Parkins

Name ring a bell?  *crosses fingers*  If you said yes, way to go!  If not, welcome to my boat because I had not a clue as to who Ms. Knight was or her impact on our world today prior to reading this book…but trust me, I do now.

Ms. Knight was an upstream swimmer, a long distance runner running into the wind, a driver going the wrong way on a one way street…in other words, she challenged the preconceived notions of a woman’s role in a time when it just wasn’t done.  The year was 1850 and though women of all ages were welcome to work in factories under less than ideal conditions (i.e. safety issues, long hours, low pay), they were not considered the brightest crayon in the box. *scowl*  This came to light for young Mattie as she was working one day and saw a need that needed to be filled…or rather an accident that didn’t need to happen.  This led to her very first invention…for which she did not receive proper credit.

Outraged?  Understandably so, especially since we’ve come (for the most part) a long way since then but at the time, things just weren’t done that way (especially love the one customer’s statement of “Can’t be much of an invention…”…”Girls don’t know a thing about machines.” – around page 10…oye with the assumptions!).  Her father gave her all the credit when asked about the inventions origin but it would never be officially registered to her name.  Sad but true.  Fast forward a few years and Mattie is now an adult on her own and working at another factory, this time making paper bags.  The machine made ones were narrow-bottomed, the flat ones had to be made by hand.  Margaret pondered why a machine couldn’t be made to make the later and so began her quest to fill this new found need the best way she knew how.

Through imagination, creativity, and just plain hard work, Margaret accomplished her goal but the road ahead was still anything but clear.  She knew she had a marvelous invention on her hands but to protect it, she needed a patent.  Let’s just say the adversity she met in trying to accomplish this seemingly simple task was astonishing as was the double crossing that occurred which later had her in the courtroom having to prove she was the mind behind the machine.  *tisk tisk*  Such bad manners for such a “genteel” society.  One should know better than to take credit for something that is not your own…and thanks to Margaret Knight, if they didn’t before, they sure did now.   

Flat Bottom Paper Bag Machine

On the illustration front, as this is a storybook despite its non-fiction genre; though plain in overall design, it’s the small details that make this one a smashing success.  In every pane where Ms. Knight is depicted, she stands out in some small way.  Whether it be the color of her dress as opposed to those of her “neighbors” occupying the same scene or the look of pure concentration strewn across her face, the fact that she is the center spoke at the wheel of this story is clear.  The pride she took in her work, apparent.  The passion she had for her inventions, crystal clear.  But that’s not where this learning journey ends…

The inclusion of a “where they are now” type feature at story’s end was a wonderful touch…and informative as well!  Did you know that at the end of Ms. Knight’s life, she had over 20 patents to her name and created over 90 inventions?  Way to go, Margaret! But there’s a message even greater than never underestimating a woman with an idea.  The book helps show readers young and young at heart that one’s life is not measured by mere days or someone else’s standards of living.  A life truly worth living is measured by your own code and what you do with the time you are given.  Ms. Knight certainly didn’t fit the mold for a conventional female in her day, but her drive and dedication to make a contribution to the world made her happy (and made the world more efficient) while making society reexamine just what roles women should be limited too. (…*ahem*…NONE!) 

The message to take away, in my mind at least, is to do what you LOVE.  Make it count.  Make it real.  Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from achieving it…and never let someone else take the credit for your efforts.  Ms. Knight wouldn’t stand for it and she had even more obstacles than we face today, why would you?

Review copy received courtesy of author Monica Kulling and Tundra Books.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title as well as her complete body of works, seek out Ms. Kulling at her official website.  To learn more about the Great Idea Series from Tundra books or explore their full catalog of backlist and future releases, be sure to stop by their site.  If this series sounds of interest to you, you may be curious to know that aside from the previously published works already available, a new addition is set to release this October entitled Going Up!  Elisha Otis’s Trip to the Top. 

Until next time…happy reading!

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