MARVELOUS MATTIE by Emily Arnold McCully


How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor
Age Range: 7 - 10
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A fictionalized biography introduces children to an enterprising 19th-century mill girl who invented, among other things, a machine to make square-bottomed brown-paper bags. McCully presents in Mattie Knight the very quintessence of Yankee ingenuity, a mechanical girl who makes an improved sled and sells them to the local children. At 12, in Manchester, N.H., she invents a device to prevent shuttles from flying dangerously off the looms, and she never looks back. Mattie’s stick-to-itiveness carries her through years of painstaking work and a threat to her patent rights as she makes her way as a woman inventor and entrepreneur. From the lovingly painted redbrick mills to the panels at the bottom of the pages that show Mattie’s sketches as she moves through life (including a facsimile of her actual patent drawings), it’s a beautiful looking book. The storytelling, however, falls short of the illustrations, clumsily rendered invented dialogue dragging the text down. As a portrait of a little-known independent woman, however, it deserves attention, though it is a pity that the bibliography doesn’t point readers to such child-oriented works as Girls Think of Everything by Catherine Thimmesh (2000). (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 6th, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-34810-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2006


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