Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Story of Thomas Alva Edison

The Story of Thomas Alva Edison

Margaret Cousins
For ages 9 to 12
Random House, 1981   ISBN: 978-0394848839

For the very beginning Tom was a different sort of person. At an early age, it soon became clear that he was something of a joker and that he was also an incredible curious little boy, forever getting into trouble because he wanted to explore and understand everything. He was only ten years old when he set up his first laboratory in his parents basement and began to do experiments and to try to invent things.

Tom’s first real commercial invention was a vote recording machine but it was not a great success. From the experience he learned a very important lesson, one which he lived by for the rest of the life - don’t bother inventing something that people are not likely to need and therefore are not likely to buy. His next commercial enterprise was much more successful - he made a stock ticker and did so well that he was able to use the money he made to build his first real laboratory and hire men to work for him. This was just the beginning of what would be one of the most extraordinary inventing careers of all time.

This excellent biography goes a long way to showing us how unique Edison was, both as a man who worked long hours and who was cut off from the world because of acute deafness, and as an inventor who changed the world as we know it. He cared deeply about what he did, had little interest in money, and often seemed to go around with his head in the clouds as he tried to puzzle out a new problem. Thanks to Thomas Alva Edison our world is a brighter, more entertaining place to live in and this book is an excellent tribute to him and his achievements.