Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Always Inventing: A photobiography of Alexander Graham Bell

Always Inventing: A photobiography of Alexander Graham Bell

Tom L. Matthews
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
National Geographic Children's Books, 1996   ISBN: 978-0792273912

When he was only eleven years old, young Alexander Graham Bell invented a device that would take the husks off wheat kernels. The invention did not make him famous, but it was the first of many things that he invented, and it was the beginning of his love affair with the inventing world.

Alexander's family had a tradition of working in the sound, speech, and teaching field. His grandfather and father had both worked as elocution and speech experts. When he was a young man Alexander also wanted to work in this field, though his interest lay more in finding ways to help the deaf learn to speak. He worked with a system that taught the deaf how to make the right sounds for speech.

Because of his studies, Alexander came to understand that sound moved in the form of waves. He became interested in trying to find a way to get sound to travel down a wire so that people could talk to one another, even if there were miles between them. Though communication had improved when the telegraph was invented, there were still so many things that the telegraph could not do. With the support of friends and colleagues, Alexander began to work on finding a way to create a machine that would carry voices, and not just dots and dashes, down a wire.

Though Alexander Graham Bell's story has been told many times before, and in many ways, this author's writing style is particularly compelling. The author's narrative is punctuated with quotes and with vignettes from Alexander's life that help bring him to life. Readers will come to see what kind of a person he was, and why he was able to do what so many other people had failed to do.

Full of annotated period photographs, this title is sure to inspire young readers who are interested in inventions and inventors.