Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Samuel Morse and the Telegraph

Samuel Morse and the Telegraph

David Seidman
Illustrator:  Rod Whigham , Keith Williams , Charles Barnett III 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel  Series
For ages 6 to 9
Capstone Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-0736868464

Today we have all become very used to be being able to communicate over long distances instantly. In the early 1800's it took weeks to receive mail and often important messages arrived at their destination too late. It was a frustrating state of affairs.

Thankfully Samuel Morse, a young painter who was fascinated by science, developed an interest in electricity. He saw that electricity was a powerful force and he wondered if it could be used to send messages. He did not work on this project much until 1832. His mother and wife had died in the late 1820's and a grieving Samuel needed to put his energies into something.

After talking to Charles Jackson, a chemist who studied electromagnets, Samuel began to experiment with electricity and electromagnets. He figured out that he could use a battery to make a device which would produce marks on paper. He then devised a code which was made up of dots and dashes which could be sent over a wire and received at the other end.

After three years of work Samuel created his first machine which could send messages, but it only worked for distances of forty feet or less. With the help of a science professor, Samuel was able to extend this range and when he demonstrated the new device to machine experts, he captured their attention and they became interested in investing in his new invention.

Finally, in 1844, Morse had a new improved machine to work with, a better code, and telegraph lines in place. He sent his first message from Washington, D.C, to Baltimore, Maryland. The demonstration was a success!

This excellent graphic novel style book not only tells the story of how Samuel Morse developed the telegraph and Morse code, but it also shows readers how this invention truly changed the world. Telegraph technology and lines led to the development of the telephone, and the invention of the telegraph led to the creation of the world's first news agency, which is still in operation today.

With an engaging text and its graphic rich format, this is a perfect book for readers who are interested in inventions and inventors.