Books by Laurie Carlson

CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2017

"While enjoyable to browse, these doll instructions are most likely to thwart all but the most determined of crafters. (Nonfiction. 9-13)"
A guidebook to making simple dolls and accessories sounds like a fine idea, as long as the supplies are readily available and the crafts are reasonably achievable. Read full book review >
KNIT, HOOK, AND SPIN by Laurie Carlson
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2016

"Tear up your T-shirts, unravel old sweaters, warm up your fingers, and create some handcrafted fun for yourself, for friends, and for those in need of small comforts. (note to adults) (Nonfiction. 8-12)"
Nimble fingers can learn how to felt, spin, weave, knit, and crochet a wide variety of wearable and useful objects. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY
Released: March 1, 2009

Harry Houdini may be the most famous magician ever. He began his career working as a sideshow act in carnivals but, by virtue of talent, study and very hard work, elevated his craft to an art, making his name a household word. A few of his more clever illusions have never been fully explained; when he died at age 52 in 1927, he took many of his secrets to the grave. This biography includes a wealth of detailed information on both Houdini and a wide variety of only marginally related subjects. Page-long text boxes include biographies of the Wright brothers, Jack London and Theodore Roosevelt, and a description of the rambling Winchester Mansion. Although period photographs and advertisements add interest, the narrative is, unfortunately, often repetitive, sometimes almost word for word. The cover promises "21 Magic Tricks and Illusions," but some of those are how to build a box kite, a recipe and an explanation of how to measure volume displacement of solids in water. An editor's magic would have benefited this average effort. (further reading, source list, index) (Nonfiction. 10 & up) Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

Carlson tucks 21 science activities, most at least slightly related to Edison's inventions, into this account of his career and times. Portraying him as a self-taught go-getter with terrible business sense but an unrelenting work ethic, an altruistic impulse that led him deliberately to leave some of his ideas unpatented, and a mischievous streak (one of his early, lesser-known inventions was an electrified cockroach trap), the author follows him from itinerant youth to renowned old age with side glances at his private life, as well as general descriptions of his major inventions and (usually ill-fated) business ventures. She also keeps the projects simple, stressing the use of common materials and noting when adult supervision is required. Illustrated with period diagrams and photos, and closing with a generous resource list, this makes a solid addition to the Edison shelf—though for capturing its subject's maverick genius, or enduring effect on our daily lives, it isn't going to replace Marfé Ferguson Delano's Inventing the Future: A Photobiography of Thomas Alva Edison (2002). (Biography. 9-12)Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2003

Does Carlson (Boss of the Plains: The Hat That Won the West, 1998, etc.) invest the sewing machine with more significance than it really merits? Perhaps, but she describes the invention's development, and the changes it heralded in both the clothing industry and the world's wardrobes, with such effervescence that even readers able to see how threadbare her case is will forgive her. Though she drops several important names, Isaac Singer plays the central role in her drama—first, for solving a major design problem of early sewing machines with the help of a spring from his son's toy popgun, then for correctly guessing that he could sell zillions of the improved devices to the working classes on the installment plan. But even the lively text pales next to the sheaves of 19th-century photos and prints, which range from intimate, aw-shucks pictures of swaddled babies to teeming factory scenes, from advertisements featuring knobby conventional machines to downright weird models shaped like human or animal figures. Few are the 19th-century's technological fruits that can rival the sewing machine for worldwide ubiquity and staying power; Carlson gives it its due with this rousing tribute. (bibliography, Web sites) (Nonfiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
BOSS OF THE PLAINS by Laurie Carlson
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 1998

Carlson celebrates the crowning (so to speak) achievement of John Batterson Stetson, a Philadelphia hatmaker who went West for his health in the 1850s and invented the emblematic piece of cowboy gear still identified with him, heavy enough to keep off the rain, wide enough to block the sun, tough enough to stand years of abuse—or, as some said, ``you can smell it across a room, but you just can't wear it out.'' Meade surrounds this lively odyssey with a kaleidoscope of brightly painted collage cowboy scenes, taking her ruddy-bearded artisan from his boyhood home in New Jersey to the gold fields of Pikes Peak, then back East where he found his fortune at last. Carlson closes her account with a biographical note while a cowboy poet's heartfelt tribute appears on the back of the jacket. Steer readers who want to know more about Stetson, or about western fashion in general, to M. Jean Greenlaw's Ranch Dressing (1993). (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9) Read full book review >