Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Earmuffs for Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became known as the Inventor of Ear

Earmuffs for Everyone! How Chester Greenwood Became known as the Inventor of Ear

Meghan McCarthy
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2015   ISBN: 978-1481406376

Sometimes people are given credit for inventions that they, in fact, did not invent. Then there are the inventors who base a new invention on other people’s inventions, and this is what happened with Chester Greenwood. In the 1700 and 1800’s people used warm woolen or fur tubes called muffs to keep their hands warm. Then, in 1858, William Ware invented devices that would keep ears warm, which he called “ear, cheek, and chin muffs.” They were rather peculiar looking things with straps that went under the chin. In the years that followed other ear warmers came on the market.

   Then Chester Greenwood came along. It is said that his ears were rather large and they were sensitive to the cold so when he was a teen he worked on developing a better “ear-muffler” design, and when he was nineteen he got a patent for his invention. What Chester did that no one had done before was to make earmuffs that stayed in place, and that therefore kept ears warmer. Like many other inventors, including the famous Thomas Edison, Chester improved on someone else’s design and ended up becoming a wealthy and successful man. He invented other things including a “portable house,” a tea kettle with a round bottom and an umbrella bag. Long after his death there were people who “wanted his legacy to live on” and thus a parade in Chester’s honor is held every year in December in Farmington, Maine.

   In this fascinating book the author tells the story of Chester Greenwood, an inventor and clever businessman, but she also shows us what the world of inventors and inventions is like. We see how people come to believe stories that are not based on fact, and how inventors are sometimes given all the credit for an invention when only some of the credit is their due. Sometimes an invention that becomes well known and well used came into being because of the creative ideas that many people had over many years.

   At the back of the book the author provides readers with further information about the writing journey she took as she wrote the book. There is also some information about patents.