Nikola Tesla arrived in the United States nearly penniless, but he had engineering skills and a grand dream.
In the late 19th century, this immigrant from Croatia imagined generating electricity from Niagara Falls and electrifying the country with an alternating current system. Ultimately, working with George Westinghouse, he made those dreams come true. Tesla’s actual accomplishments are a difficult and controversial subject, but his name increasingly appears in children’s fiction. This new entry in the Great Ideas series may help explain his appeal. Although some of his setbacks are noted and the author hints at his lack of commercial success, mostly this quirky engineer is portrayed as a man who made his dream come true. There is some invented or reworked dialogue, and his story has been simplified. Slavin's digitally colored pen-and-ink drawings have just the right historical look; they offer a bit of humor and are full of interesting machines and motors. Bibliographical references appear on the copyright page as “sources of inspiration”; they include one written for children, Elizabeth Rusch and Oliver Dominguez’s Electrical Wizard (2013), which is visually less engaging but more useful, especially for its backmatter.
Storywise, this admiring introduction to one of the foremost inventors of the electrical age sparkles, but it doesn’t provide a steady, dependable source of information. (Informational picture book. 4-8)