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What's the Big Idea?


Beginning with inventions from long, long ago (the needle, the wheel, the water pump) moving to those from long ago (the printing press, steel, the telegraph) and ending with innovations from not so long ago (the car, the TV, mp3s), What’s the Big Idea? treats readers to an in-depth, but lighthearted look at 32 of our most important inventions. Each invention profile lists its highlights — who invented it, when, and where — and asks and answers the question “Why this invention and why now?” Author Helaine Becker pays close attention to what was going on in the world at the time of each invention — showing the timeliness of each invention and putting it in context for the reader. Fun tidbits of information are worked seamlessly and liberally into the bites of historical information to keep kids entertained and engaged. Five Big Thinkers are also profiled alongside their major inventions. Readers will learn about some of the oddities and follies of Archimedes, Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Faraday, Alexander Graham Bell, and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Plus, major inventions under a single theme, such as the schoolroom, the battlefield, and the doctor’s office are explored in two-page illustrations. Becker closes the book by asking readers “What’s next in the exciting world of innovation?” Inspired kids may very well reach for their thinking caps to find out.Helaine Becker, Steve Attoe

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