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GIZMO by Barry Varela


by Barry Varela & illustrated by Ed Briant

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: May 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-59643-115-7
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Engineering becomes art in this sprightly tale of a huge but useless machine saved from the wrecking ball. Written in rhymed free verse, the tale opens with Professor Ludwig von Glink waking one morning with an idea for a perpetual-motion device. He’s wrong—but so entrancing is his mechanical gizmo that he decides “to work up some specs / and see if I can make this / mingle-mangle of intricate / jury-rigged gimcrackery / yet more complex.” Cheered on by his wife (dressed, as he is, in a lab coat) and five children, the Professor proceeds to wreath the entire house in gears and rods, pulleys, slides and pinwheels. Then a hard-nosed Building Inspector shows up. Using quick strokes of pen and brush, Briant creates buoyant, increasingly crowded cartoon scenes featuring a magnificent construct that almost conceals the house around and through which it snakes—and which is saved by the last minute appeal of the City Contemporary Art Museum’s strong-minded Director. Like another recent iteration of the theme, Dayle Ann Dodds’s Henry’s Amazing Machine (2004), illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker, the unusual language adds great read-aloud potential. (Picture book. 6-8)