What’s the Big Idea? Inventions that Changed Life on Earth Forever
Reviewed: February 2, 2010
By: Helaine Becker
Publisher: Maple Tree Press
96 pages, $19.95
Aimed at middle school students, this clever book is the tale of how many inventions
came about as the result of mankind’s desire to answer six basic needs:
I’m alone, I’m sick, I’m scared, I’m hungry, I’m
cold and wet, I’m tired.
“Innovation - the ability to come up with new ideas and use familiar objects
in new ways - is something that makes us unique in the animal kingdom, It’s
allowed us to invent everything from soap to steel, telephones to toilets, compasses
to computers, In fact, the most incredible inventions of all time - the ones
that have literally changed our world, have all burst forth to meet one of these
six basic needs...”
Becker has divided the book into three large sections: Long, Long Ago; Long
Ago; Not so Long Ago. Each section begins in the long ago with a single development
and ends with a section in which the end result of just about everything already
mentioned can be seen in a modern context.
There’s a section on inventions and on cultural innovations. There are
Big Thinker sections which profile such key thinkers and developers as Archimedes,
Leonardo, Bell, Faraday, Gates and Jobs. Closeups of settings in the schoolroom,
the bathroom, the doctor’s office, and the kitchen show us where a lot
of these inventions come together to serve our needs.
Written in a breezy style with lots of clever illustrations, sidebars, spinoff
segments and and mini-fact sections, this is a book which will repay the young
reader a lot of browsing and probably send him or her off to check out some
of the internet references mentioned.