Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin

Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin

Jessica Gunderson
Illustrator:  Gerry Acerno , Rodney Ramos , Charles Barnett III 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 7 to 9
Capstone Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-0736868433

For farmers in the southern states in America, cotton was their biggest crop. They had slaves to plant, tend, and harvest the cotton, but it took a lot of work, and time, to remove all the seeds from the cotton. At first the farmers had to sell their cotton to English mills because America had no mills. But then, in 1793, the first American cotton mill opened. Though the mill was a success, getting enough cotton to meet demand was hard because it took so long to clean the cotton.

Eli Whitney was working as a tutor in the south when he was told about this problem. Being skilled with his hands Eli decided to see if he could invent a machine that would remove the seeds from the cotton. After talking to the local farmers and the pickers, Eli set to work. After building several prototypes, and after solving the problems he encountered, Eli finally had a machine that worked.

In this book a well written text is combined with graphic novel type artwork. The result is a story that is interesting, informative, and easy to read. This, and the other books in this series, will show young readers that history and biographies can be entertaining, and the books can give children a deeper appreciation for the world around them.