Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2016 Contenders: Inventions That Could Have Changed the World...But Didn't!, by Joe Rhatigan

Inventions That Could Have Changed the World...But Didn't! is exactly the kind of book that my ten-year-old self would have devoured in a single sitting. It's sort of a curiosity cabinet of commercially unsuccessful inventions and the people who devised them. Each failed invention is described briefly -- usually in less than half a page -- and accompanied by cartoon illustrations, patent drawings, photos, or some combination of these.

It's a quick, breezy read, and I think it would be a very easy reader's advisory sell for the kinds of kids who haunt the 000s looking for books of weird facts. However, it's put together less carefully than I'd prefer. For instance, the very first page of the book says, "Before lightbulbs, people went to bed when it got dark outside. (There was nothing else to do.)" That statement neatly overlooks the development of torches, candles, and oil lamps, and sacrifices accuracy for the sake of a witty observation.

The book is still a lot of fun, and it's nice to have internet links to things like an audiorecording of the demonic-sounding Edison Talking Doll and a video of some brave/foolhardy folks driving Dynaspheres. If I were still doing collection development, I would certainly purchase Inventions for my library.

I'm not entirely sure about the eligibility of Inventions for the ALA awards -- the copyright date is 2015, and Amazon lists it as having a 2015 publication date. However, Goodreads claims it was published originally in 2014, and the printing date is October 2014. Even if it's eligible, however, Inventions certainly won't win the Newbery, and I doubt the Sibert committee will show it any love either.

Published in February(?) by Imagine / Charlesbridge

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