Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ticktock Banneker's Clock

Ticktock Banneker's Clock

Shana Keller
Illustrator:  David C. Gardner 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Sleeping Bear Press, 2016   ISBN: 978-1585369560

Winter is coming and Benjamin Banneker has been working hard to get his farm ready for the coming cold months. The bee hives have been wrapped up, the fence has been mended, and the fruits and vegetables have been harvested. Benjamin decides to take a little time to examine the pocket watch that he borrowed from a gentleman that he knows.

Benjamin is fascinated by the tiny watch and is curious to see how it works. Carefully he opens up the case that protects the watch and takes a look at the mechanism that lies beneath. For a long while Benjamin studies the “tiny maze” of gears and moving parts. Though the pocket watch is certainly perfect to carry around on one’s person, it is far too small to “sit on a mantel, or hang from a wall.” Benjamin decides that he wants to make clock that chimes, a clock that people can keep in their home that they can look at as they go about their day.

At the temperatures drops and snow falls, Benjamin studies the pocket watch and draws lots of diagrams so that he has a record of what each moving part looks like. The diagrams will also help him to put the pocket watch back together again when he has finished. In addition, he makes new scale drawings of the watch’s parts, which he will use to build his bigger version.

When spring arrives Benjamin’s drawings are complete and he is now ready to start building his chiming clock. Metal would be the ideal material to use to make the device, but metal is expensive and Benjamin cannot afford it. He decides to use wood, a material that he has in abundance on his farm and that is essentially free.

At first Benjamin is excited, but soon his feelings of enthusiasm change to those of frustration. The wood parts that he is creating for his clock kept breaking and he does not know what to do about the problem.

Many of us problem-solve on a daily basis. For Benjamin Banneker and people like him who like to invent and create things, figuring out how to solve problems is an essential part of their lives. In this wonderful picture book we see how a young man with exceptional inventing skills figures out how to create something unique.

At the back of the book readers will find further information about Benjamin Banneker’s life and achievements.