What would a renowned, established inventor have to say to a hopeful young tinkerer?
Slade precedes her description of a historical meeting with interwoven accounts: one of Thomas, a disaster-prone experimenter who parlays an early interest in gadgets and electricity into a pen that produces multiple copies, a phonograph, and hundreds of other popular innovations; the other of Henry, born 16 years later, whose yen to produce a practical, inexpensive motor car encounters obstacle after frustrating obstacle. At last, hoping for insight into Edison’s success, Henry buttonholes the great inventor at an 1896 dinner. The two instantly fall into a technical discussion, climaxed by the excited Edison’s “Keep at it!” And, of course, Ford goes on to craft his Models A through T, the “Tin Lizzy.” Reinhardt’s watercolor scenes, often bordered with toothed gears or antique-looking curlicues, feature two dapper but slightly rumpled figures thinking, tinkering, and showing off the iconic products of their determined efforts. Along with noting specific design changes and flaws in selected early Fords, the author and illustrator close with fuller notes on major Edison-ian inventions, the development of the Model T, and particularly the lifelong friendship that the encounter kindled between these two giants of industrial technology.
Not exactly eloquent advice, perhaps, but on target. (timeline, source notes, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 8-10)