QUEEN OF INVENTIONS

HOW THE SEWING MACHINE CHANGED THE WORLD

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)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7613-2706-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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THE PUMPKIN BOOK

The Pumpkin Book (32 pp.; $16.95; Sept. 15; 0-8234-1465-5): From seed to vine and blossom to table, Gibbons traces the growth cycle of everyone’s favorite autumn symbol—the pumpkin. Meticulous drawings detail the transformation of tiny seeds to the colorful gourds that appear at roadside stands and stores in the fall. Directions for planting a pumpkin patch, carving a jack-o’-lantern, and drying the seeds give young gardeners the instructions they need to grow and enjoy their own golden globes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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