A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Gerald McDermott (Anansi the Spider, Arrow to the Sun), Denise Fleming (In the Tall, Tall Grass), and Bryan Collier (Rosa, Martin's Big Words).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of baseball player Jackie Robinson (1919â€“1972). He was the first black Major League baseball player. Read Testing The Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
- In 1865, the United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery.
- Itâ€™s Inspire Your Heart with Art Day. Visit a museum and read A Nest for Celeste: A Story about Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole.
On January 31, 1930, 3M began marketing Scotch Tape, an invention of Richard Drew. The familiar plaid design, an adaptation of the Wallace tartan, did not come along for another fifteen years. But Scotch Tape, like so many other simple inventions, changed everyday life.
If I were to recommend to parents a single reference source to have in their home library it would be one of my favorite books of all times, David Macaulayâ€™s The New Way Things Work. Even if you are mechanically handicapped, as I am, the clear and precise way that Macaulay presents how machines workâ€”from levels to lasers, windmills to Web sitesâ€”engages even the most initially reluctant readers for 400 pages and encourages young people to think about inventions.
For a recent essay I was writing, I had to sort out nuclear fission, nuclear fusion, and the atomic bomb. Who did I turn to for help? Macaulay, of course. My can opener doesnâ€™t work. Consult David. Page after page, he makes the incomprehensible seem easy to understand.
Born in the Manchester area of England, David grew up in a household where everyone created things. His father fashioned wood carvings and toys; in the evening the family sat around the coal stove in their kitchen. Macaulay recalls, â€śBy the time we got out of that kitchen, we actually believed that creativity and craftsmanship were desirableâ€”even normal.â€ť When he was eleven years old, Macaulay came with his family to America and made a place for himself in this new land. As a student at the Rhode Island School of Design and later as a faculty member there, he pursued his love of drawing and architectureâ€”one that eventually led to his series of very successful childrenâ€™s books about how architectural structures are createdâ€”Castle, Cathedral, and Mosque. His new book, Built to Last, combines all three titles.
I personally believe that David Macaulay is the hardest working practitioner in the field of childrenâ€™s books. All of his books take enormous amounts of research; the drawing time alone for each page is daunting. But his early books seem a cake walk compared to The New Way Things Work. Here he describes, and shows in the art, hundreds of objectsâ€”holograms, helicopters, airplanes, bits and bytes, even the stapler. And he manages to do this with humor. The book features a woolly mammoth as a protagonist, who always provides a laugh when he demonstrates how the inventions are used.
In short, the book provides endless hours of enjoyment for young readers. I firmly believe that in the future, when some new young inventor is interviewed, he will say with pride, â€śI got my early inspiration from David Macaulay.â€ť
Originally posted January 31, 2011. Updated for .