Saturday, July 21, 2012

TIMELESS THOMAS by Gene Barretta

I have so loved the Now and Then Biographies by Gene Barretta. I was thrilled to see the newest in this series because it is about Thomas Edison. It is called Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives.  Thomas Edison is a big part of Ohio history and his impact on the world is truly incredible. So happy to have this book to add to my collection of picture book biographies!

If you do not know the THEN and NOW books by Gene Barretta, they are quite brilliant.  Barretta takes things that each inventor invented and shows us how we use that invention now--so we start with something we are familiar with it.  Then he takes us back (on the opposite side of the two-page spread) to the original invention. Connecting the two help readers to see how long-lasting the impact the invention is. It also helps to see the evolution and the way that the new idea/technology changed things. The other books in this series are Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin and Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci.

Timeless Thomas might be my favorite of the three. Maybe it's because I love to read about Thomas Edison. A few old movies, one starring Mickey Rooney,Young Tom Edison and another,  Edison the Man are two movies that got me interested in the work of Thomas Edison. I don't know how accurate they are but they did let viewers get some insights into Edison's work, life, thinking processes, etc. Every time I read or learn about Edison, I am shocked at the number of inventions that have impacted our lives.  Timeless Thomas helps readers understand that.

This seems the perfect book for elementary age children. First of all, the "Present Day" pages help readers connect to original inventions by seeing how these things are used today.  The book starts out with Edison's invention of the phonograph but because it starts out with "Present Day", it grabs the reader by saying, "We can now record any sound we like and save it. That was not possible before Edison."  The next page explains the origin and the workings of the phonograph.  The present day piece is very timely and the illustrations and examples are very child-friendly.

I also like the book as a writing teacher. Because there are three in the series, these make great mentor texts for nonfiction. This is one format young writers can study and possibly try on their own.

And, I love this book for social studies. Not only does it tie into history (and especially Ohio history) but history of the world/nation and how inventions change things. How communities change because of evolving technology.

I see so many possibilities with this book. It is brand new and one I am happy to add to my classroom library:-)


  1. I don't know this series but it sounds like one I am definitely going to have to hunt down. There is a "Drawings of DaVinci" exhibit at the Denver Art Museum right now and it sounds like it would be a really nice book to use in conjunction with a field trip.

  2. This is a new series for me. I need to check into it, especially as I move back into 4th grade. This one sounds like a winner!


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