A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Happy birthday Belinda Hurmence (A Girl Called Boy).
- Itâ€™s the birth date of H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937), Dreams in the Witch House: And Other Weird Stories, Jeff Brown (1926-2003), Flat Stanley series, and Sue Alexander (1933-2008), Behold the Trees.
- In 1775 the Spanish establish a presidio (fort) in the town that will become Tucson, Arizona. Read The No Place Cat by C. S. Adler.
- Charles Darwin first published his theory of evolution through natural selection in The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London on this day in 1858. Read Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution by Steve Jenkins.
- In 1882, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovskyâ€™s 1812 Overture makes its debut in Moscow. Read Jeremyâ€™s War 1812 by John Ibbitson.
- In 1920 the first commercial radio station, 8MK (WWJ), begins operations in Detroit, Michigan. Read Radio Fifth Grade by Gordon Korman.
August has been designated National Inventors Month. So often when we think of inventors, we think of dead white men. But in 2000, writer Catherine Thimmesh and illustrator Melissa Sweet published a book that changed that perception for me: Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women.
Catherine sets the stage in the opening chapter, talking about how women developed the mortar and pestle to prepare food. Then she takes us quickly through some notable historic achievements like the ice cream cone and hair care products. She highlights Mary Dixon Kies, the first woman to hold a U.S. patent, who came up with a method to weave straw with silk thread that was used to manufacture womenâ€™s hats. Thank you Mary Dixon Kies!
But the heart of the book lies in a series of three- to four-page essays about individual women who made a difference with their inventions. Sometimes their creations came about by chance. Ruth Wakefield, in a hurry one day, altered her recipe for chocolate-butter drop cookies and made chocolate chip ones instead. A typing mistake led Bette Nesmith Graham to create Liquid Paper. This little gem eventually was purchased for 47.5 million dollars! The book introduces chemists like Stephanie Kwolek who invented Kevlar but also women like the pragmatic Margaret E. Knight, who worked in a paper-bag factory. She invented a machine that made flat-bottomed paper bags, so they didnâ€™t have to be made by hand.
Everyone one of these portraits provides fascinating detailsâ€”what the women thought about, how they developed a business around what they created, and whether or not they sold the rights to a larger company. It not only provides information about inventions, but also what can be accomplished in a small or growing business. Melissa Sweetâ€™s art, just as lively as the text, provides portraits of the women and adds facts about their achievements.
In a final sequenceâ€”â€śGirls (Even the Young Ones) Think of Everythingâ€ťâ€”the book presents two young people, Becky Schroeder, 17, and Alexia Abernathy, 11, who caught the inventor bug early in their lives. With a timeline and further reading, the book makes the topic so appealing that young and old will want to try their hand at inventing something.
Personally, I am off to work on the â€śSilveyâ€ťâ€”a way to secure womenâ€™s hats to their heads! Happy National Inventors Month and happy inventing!
Hereâ€™s a page from Girls Think of Everything:
Originally posted August 20, 2012. Updated for .