Written & Illustrated by: Marcia Williams
Published in 2005
Genre: Nonfiction, Picture Book
Grade Level: 3-5
Summary: Hooray for Inventors! presents information on over 100 inventors in comic book format. Marcia Williams tells the stories of several famous inventors, and highlights the inventions of many lesser known inventors as well.
Cover: The cover on this book was really interesting to me. It’s bright and colorful, and the illustrations are really attention catching. I was looking for an informational book to review, and the cover of this book made it pop out to me.
Illustrations: Taken individually, the illustrations in this book are fantastic. The comic book style is interesting and is certain to grab the attention of students, particularly boys who enjoy comic books. (Not to say that girls don’t like comic books too. I for one loved manga and graphic novels when I was growing up!) Unfortunately, the pages in this book are way too busy with the comic strips, text, and animals talking in the margins.
There is so much going on that it’s difficult to focus on just one thing. I had to come up with a system of what to look at (text first, then comics, then margin animals) just to get through each page.
The Good: First of all, I love the idea of making informational books in the comic book format! I can think of several children I’ve worked with over the last couple years who hate reading traditional books, but who jump at the chance to read graphic novels.
Another great thing about this book is that it encourages children to become inventors. It points out that inventing happens all the time, and states that the readers can become inventors too. The book not only showcases the “big” and famous inventions (such as the printing press and the telephone), but also the “little” ones (such as coffee filter paper and teddy bears). This shows the reader that inventions (and inventors) come in all shapes and sizes. Williams also tells her readers how important it is to patent their inventions (which is backed up by stories of inventors who did not patent their ideas.
The Bad: Once again, the pages in this book are so busy that it’s almost headache inducing. Taken individually each part of the book is good, but when put togther it’s just too much. For example, having the text read like a story beneath the comic strips (which include their own text) was just awkward. I would prefer the story to be told through the comics. Another example is the animal conversations in the margins. The birds and tortoise provide fun facts about the inventions (such as when paper was invented on the page about the printing press), which is good, but when combined with everything else it ends up being overwhelming.
The other problem with this book is the depth of information. To borrow a phrase from one of my education professors: the information is a mile wide and an inch deep. Williams mentions over 100 inventors, but even the stories she spends more time on don’t contain a lot of information.
Final Thoughts: This could be a great book for getting kids interesting in inventors and inventing. I wouldn’t use this as a read aloud, but I would have it available as a supplemental book for students to look at. It could be used as a starting point for a research project about inventors.
I give Hooray for Inventors! Three stars.