“Who created instant messages and changed the world forever?”
Lively, fact-based text and energetic, kid-friendly illustrations capture the feeling of a past era to present the story of frustrated artist and creative inventor Samuel Morse. Setting the scene quickly so youngsters can jump right in, Maurer good-naturedly portrays Morse’s artistic snobbery and vision, his not-so-successful experiments with invention, his interest in innovation, his willingness to take risks, his inquiring mind, and his resilience, presenting her subject as a real person to identify with rather than a flawless hero to be coolly admired. This is not a tale of diversity; the cast of characters is primarily male and white, though there are some women and people of color in the background. Periodic questions about Morse’s ideas appear within the story, clarifying Morse’s historical role and allowing for the repeated, titular refrain: “Samuel Morse, that’s who!” By breaking down the invention of the telegraph into steps that readers will easily understand, the text effectively explains how the invention works as well as how it came to be, and young readers and listeners just may be inspired to try some inventing of their own. Backmatter includes a timeline, bibliography, additional facts, and an author’s note. For readers who are able to remove the jacket, there is a Morse code chart on its reverse.
An excellent, entertaining choice to highlight social-emotional skills, history, and STEM. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)