From an early age “Aleck” (Bell’s family nickname) evinced an interest in sound and hearing, probably due to his father’s profession of speech therapy and his mother’s hearing loss.
Aleck’s childhood experiences, observations, and experiments led to his careers, first as a teacher to the deaf and then as an inventor of the telephone. Aleck was determined to speed up communication and improve on the telegraph, first developed in the 1830s. The book’s accessible text focuses on his life up to and including the invention of the telephone in 1876, when he was 29. His later inventions are described in the backmatter, along with a chronology and an author’s note. The multimedia illustrations use photographic collage elements, friendly, slightly cartoony human figures, and sound effects and dialogue balloons on some pages. Photographic insets and diagrams further explain Bell’s work. This expands the content of the book and makes it appealing to both children looking for the story of Bell’s life and his lifelong curiosity and those more interested in scientific explanations. However, it lacks a bibliography. The front and rear endpapers are of particular note, depicting a photographic history of the telephone from 1876 to 1989 in sepia tone. The author’s note describes Aleck’s interest in photography and her own desire to incorporate photography in different ways in the book’s design.
Calling out to history buffs and scientists, this will inspire young inventors. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)