Written & Illustrated by: Don Brown
Published in 2010
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Grade Level: 2-4
Summary: A Wizard from the Start tells the story of Thomas Edison, the famous inventor who boasted 1,093 patents throughout his lifetime. This book covers Edison’s story, from childhood to his adult years, highlighting the education he received and some of his well-known inventions.
I am, admittedly, not a big fan of nonfiction and biographies, which is why I chose a few biographies during my last library visit. I wanted to expose myself to more children’s literature in these genres. The biographies were rather arbitrarily picked, and this one was chosen because I liked the title.
Let’s start with the illustrations. The style wasn’t my favorite, but the pictures were enjoyable and fit well with the story. The cover itself was rather bland, and I probably wouldn’t have picked the book up if I hadn’t seen the word “wizard.” I know… my inner fantasy nerd is showing…
As far as the story was concerned, I was quite pleased. I loved the little anecdotes about Edison’s childhood and the adventures he had, but I felt like the book was lacking in information about his adult life and inventions. The book is admittedly supposed to focus on his childhood, but with that I would have preferred that the author not include any of his adult life at all.
One interesting thing about this book was the inclusion of quotations, supposedly from Thomas Edison himself. There were several instances where Edison was quoted. Sometimes these quotes worked really well, while other times they just seemed awkward. For me, as a recent college graduate, seeing random quotations thrown into the text wasn’t that weird, but I do think it would bother some students. That said, this book provides an excellent opportunity to talk about the importance of citing information and including bibliographies when writing research papers.
Final Thoughts: All in all, I thought this was a good book. It was somewhat lacking in a couple areas, but on the whole it provided some good and interesting information about Thomas Edison. I don’t know that I would use it in my classroom, unless I was specifically talking about citing resources with the students. I think there are probably better biographies of Thomas Edison out there, and I would probably use a different book to talk about him if I had the chance.
I give A Wizard from the Start three stars.