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Friday, October 14, 2011

In The Bag, written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by David Parkins. Tundra, 2011. $19.99 ages 6 and up

"The stop-motion device was Mattie's first invention. She was never paid a penny for it because she was too young to register a patent.
Soon her safety device was attached to all looms. Mattie took pride in knowing that millworkers were safer."

I really like this series from Tundra. It's called 'Great Ideas' and indeed, they are! They are picture book biographies of well-known, and not so well-known, inventors in a format that works for early years readers. This is the third in the series, following books about George Eastman and Elijah McCoy.

Margaret Knight was born at a time when girls did not do the unexpected. Mattie marched to her own drummer, loving to make things like sleds and kites. Her older brothers worked in the cotton mill and when she was twelve, Mattie also worked there. She was confounded by the maze of machines that made up the mill, often getting in trouble for not paying attention to the work at hand.

When a shuttle came loose and hurt one of her fellow workers, Mattie was determined to find a way to stop it from happening again. It took much thought and a great deal of work, but she invented a spool cover that changed things for the better in the mill. She was never paid for her idea, but was content to know that the workplace was safer for everyone. And, it was only her first invention!

"By 1868, Margaret Knight was thirty years old. Most women of the day were married with children, but not Margaret. Instead, she worked at a paper-bag factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, but was happiest in the evenings, dreaming up designs for new machines."

The flat-bottom paper bag was her first patented invention, and she went on to have twenty patents and ninety inventions by the time she died in 1914. That is persistence for you, and a productive mind.

I am busy working at a list of picture book biographies that will invite discussion, and introduce children of all ages to the many people who have had an impact on our world. This will surely be on that list!

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