Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Picture Books
Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor

Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor

Spring 2006 Picture Books
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Emily Arnold McCully
Illustrator: Emily Arnold McCully
ISBN: 0-374-34810-3
Hardcover Price: $16.00
While modern girls are encouraged to pursue careers in math and science, it wasn't the case during young Mattie's time. Based on the life of Margaret E. Knight, Marvelous Mattie takes readers back to the Industrial Revolution in a true story with as many dramatic turns of events as any work of fiction. Always an imaginative child, Mattie uses her father's toolbox to put her ideas into practice, creating kites, footwarmers, and other life-enhancing devices for her family. Economic circumstances later compel Mattie's mother (and eventually a teenage Mattie herself) to take grueling work in the New England textile mills—an experience that prompts Mattie to begin designing machines that are both safer and more efficient. There is much trial and error in Mattie's inventing process, and her perseverance despite setbacks is a good lesson for young readers. The story is moved along nicely by McCully's soft watercolor illustrations, but what are even more interesting are the many line drawings of invention designs—some of which are from the actual 1871 patent of one of Knight's machines. A biographical note and a bibliography for further reading round out the book. This is an excellent book for classrooms and school libraries, and a good inspirational tale for like-minded girls.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2006 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.

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