Eureka! Poems about Inventors
Sidman, Joyce. 2002. EUREKA! POEMS ABOUT INVENTORS. Ill. by K. Bennett Chavez. Brookfield, CT: The Milford Press, Inc. ISBN 0761316655
2. Plot Summary:
In this illustrated collection of poems about relatively famous and even some unknown inventors Joyce Sidman captures the thoughts and ideas behind each person’s discovery. Chavez’s beautiful illustrations create a strong visual account of each creation. This book offers 16 creative and inspired poems describing some of history’s most important inventions.
3. Critical Analysis:
In her collection of free verse poems about inventors Joyce Sidman captures the essence of various inventors and their creations. The poems are chronologically organized from the earliest inventions to the latest starting with the discovery of clay to the invention of the Internet. They describe the passionate struggle each person experienced in achieving the discovery for which they are most famous. In “The Light—Ah! The Light”, the poem, told through the voice of Marie Curie, describes the hardship of being discriminated against for being a female, Polish scientist and the discovery of radium, which would eventually take her life. Sidman uses personification of life to beautifully express Curie’s emotions. “I, Manya, the poor Polish girl from Warsaw, pried open life’s hidden heart and discovered the bright burn of its decay.”
Chavez’s illustrations delve deeper into each inventor’s discoveries and add additional details that extend the impact of their work. In “Enquire Within”, a poem about the discovery of the Internet, a series of circuits and electrical schematics interconnect along with a picture of an early computer, a spider web woven with the word, “WEB”, and images of the Revolutionary war with part of the word Revolution visible. These visual symbols impact the change and interconnectedness that Sidman conveys in the line, “I flung out the first strands freely, and others felt their pull, a revolution of thousands, worldwide, all helping weave the Web.”
Grouped into four sections, the poems follow discoveries throughout history that have changed our lives for the better. After each section additional information is given about each inventor and their discovery. This helpful information provides insight and understanding into the background of the inventor. For example, the poem, “The Real McCoy” is made much clearer to the reader after reading the background information which states that Elijah McCoy was trained as a Railroad Engineer in Scotland before coming back to America, the son of freed slaves. We can deeper understand his frustration at not being listened to as he tries to ‘sell’ his invention of the self-lubricating engine. Children will especially enjoy the section called “A Light Interlude” that tells of inventors whose names have become synonymous with their inventions. Recognizable names like Levi Strauss and Louis Braille will be familiar to some but others like Sir Thomas Crapper and Amelia Bloomer add humor to the list.
4. Review Excerpts:
Reviewed in BOOKLIST. “In 16 poems, mostly free verse, Sidman commemorates the best-known achievements of dozens of inventors.”
Reviewed in HORNBOOK. “In unfortunately small type, the chronologically arranged poems, accompanied by attractive paintings, are followed by brief biographical notes.
Reviewed in SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL. “The entire book reads beautifully as one amazing journey from before recorded time to the present.”
Other books by Joyce Sidman:
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DOG: POEMS AND TEEN VOICES. ISBN 0618174974
BUTTERFLY EYES AND OTHER SECRETS OF THE MEADOW. ISBN 061856313X
SONG OF THE WATER BOATMAN AND OTHER POND POEMS. ISBN 0618135472
*Use poems about each inventor as a starting point for research about that inventor to create a biography told from the inventor’s point of view.
*Find other inventions to research and students create poems told from inventor’s point of view.
*Read other books by Joyce Sidman and compare the different styles of poems.