Thursday, October 31, 2013

Inventive minds

I have two picture books to recommend that feature the inventive mind.

First is Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall.  This is a humourous look at what happens when the inventive spirit gets out of hand.

Dawson loves to build things from left over and broken bits of stuff that he finds around his house and neighbourhood.  The message: everything can be reused.  Unfortunately, his huge collection of found objects means he can’t always find things when he wants and his busy building schedule prevents him from doing his chores.  But this inventor decides that a chore-doing robot is just the ticket to take care of both of these problems.  “Stupendous!” as Dawson would say.  With cat food for brains, the robot starts to get out of control, sucking up everything in its path and growing bigger and bigger.  But resourceful Dawson figures out a solution for this problem, too.  It all ends happily.

Our next inventor is a grownup who just doesn't know the meaning of giving up.  Papa’sMechanical Fish by Candace Fleming is loosely based on a real inventor, Lodner Phillips.  Papa lives to work in his workshop inventing all sorts of things from collapsible coat hangers and edible socks to steam-powered roller skates.  But stymied by a lack of a ‘fantastic idea’ for his next invention, he takes the family fishing.  While fishing, he has his ‘eureka’ moment when his daughter, Virena, wonders aloud what it would be like to be a fish.  Over the next several weeks, Papa builds several prototypes of a mechanical fish (submarine) that get progressively bigger and better.  The message in this one is all about never giving up and learning from your mistakes.  Papa eventually gets it right and the whole family is able to go for a ride and experience life under water.  You just never know where inspiration will come from.
There is an interesting afterword that outlines the attempts of Lodner Phillips to build a submarine in the mid.  Apparently, not much has been written about Phillips, but the author does include the few sources for her story.

Both stories include elements of humour that are reinforced with the illustrations.

I recommend both of these for early elementary grades when looking for curriculum ties about science, building things, creative thinking and repurposing stuff to make new stuff.


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