Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Johann Gutenberg and the Printing Press

Johann Gutenberg and the Printing Press

Kay Melchisedech Olson
Illustrator:  Tod Smith 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 7 to 10
Capstone Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0736864824

In Europe in the 1400s books were precious objects. Each one had to be written out by hand and if it was illustrated the whole process took a long time. Not surprisingly the scribes and monks who created the books sometimes made mistakes. If they were working on the bible and made a mistake this could be a real problem. None of the bibles being created were the same and arguments arose about which bible was correct.

A young man called Johann Gutenberg became interested in this problem. He was challenged to try to find a way "to make hundreds of copies of the bible, each exactly the same." And so he began to find a way to create sets of moveable metal letters that could be placed in "forms" to create sentences. The forms were then used to print the sentences on paper. Unfortunately it took a long time for Johann to develop the process, and even longer to print up the pages of his bible. It was not long before he was running into money problems, problems that would have a profound effect on his future.

In this excellent Graphic Library title the author not only tells the story of Johann Gutenberg, but she also very skillfully shows her readers why the printing press was such an important invention. Being able to mass produce books was a huge innovation that had a great impact on the history of the world.

With its graphic novel style format and easy to follow narrative, this title makes history entertaining for readers who normally don't like non-fiction books.