Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Bright Ideas: The Age of Invention in America 1870-1910

Bright Ideas: The Age of Invention in America 1870-1910

Ann Rossi
For ages 10 to 12
National Geographic Children's Books, 2005   ISBN: 978-0792282761

There are many reasons why people become inventors. Sometimes it is because they see a need for a particular gadget or process. Elijah McCoy, for example, created an automatic lubricator. Before his device was invented machines had to be stopped and lubricated by hand at frequent intervals to prevent them from getting too hot or breaking. Other inventors invent things to make money. This can be risky, for one never knows if an invention in going to be successful or if it is going to be well received by the public.

Then there are the inventors who simply have to find the answer to a problem. The Wright brothers could not help wanting to find a way to create a heavier-than-air flying machine. It was a puzzle that they wanted to solve.

In the years 1870 to 1910 many things were changing. People wanted more conveniences to make their lives easier. They wanted more leisure time and they wanted to travel. Inventors of all kinds worked hard to meet these needs. Cars were built to make travel easier, and the light bulb was invented to bring a safe form of light into homes and businesses. New labor saving machines and gadgets driven by electricity were created for the home and for businesses, and creative inventors made bicycles, cameras, Ferris wheels and other entertainments to amuse Americans who now had more time on their hands.

This is an interesting portrait not only of inventors and their creations, but also of a time in American history when inventors were especially active, and when their inventions had an enormous impact on society. Annotated photographs and illustrations break up the text, and interesting mini biographies, quotations, and facts can be found throughout the book.