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ALL ABOARD! by Monica Kulling


Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine

From the Great Idea series, volume 2

by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Bill Slavin

Age Range: 5 - 8

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 2010
ISBN: 970-0-88776-945-0
Publisher: Tundra

Greasing the wheels of her smooth-running account with occasional dollops of fiction, Kulling follows the late-19th/early-20th–century African-American inventor from his youth in Canada to the successful trial of the oil cup he invented to prevent locomotives from having to stop frequently for manual oiling. In equally fluent watercolors, Slavin depicts a young man with broad, intelligent features energetically shoveling coal (the only job he could get, though he was a trained mechanical engineer) and laboring after hours over designs for his device and finally as a white-bearded oldster animatedly showing one of his many later inventions to a child. As Wendy Towle’s Real McCoy: The Life of an African American Inventor (1993, illustrated by Wil Clay) is a more detailed and systematic introduction for younger audiences, and, along with a misleading title (he did not invent a steam engine), this one lacks source notes or resource lists, consider it a second-stringer. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)