by Meghan McCarthy
Published 2015 by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Nonfiction Picture Book
Review copy obtained from public library
As a young boy, Chester Greenwood went from having cold ears to becoming a great inventor in this nonfiction picture book from the acclaimed author-illustrator of Pop! and Daredevil.
When your ears are cold, you can wear earmuffs, but that wasn't true for Chester Greenwood back in 1873. Earmuffs didn't exist yet! But during yet another long and cold Maine winter, Chester decided to do something about his freezing ears, and he designed the first pair of ear protectors (a.k.a. earmuffs) out of wire, beaver fur, and cloth. He received a patent for his design by the time he was nineteen, and within a decade the Chester Greenwood & Company factory was producing and shipping Champion Ear Protectors worldwide!
But that was just the beginning of Chester's career as a successful businessman and prolific inventor. In this fun and fact-filled picture book you can find out all about his other clever creations. The Smithsonian has declared Chester Greenwood one of America's most outstanding inventors. And if you're ever in Maine on December 21, be sure to don a pair of earmuffs and celebrate Chester Greenwood day!
I was thrilled to see the story of Chester Greenwood in a picture book. Being from Maine, it always excites me when a Mainer is featured in a book. Even more exciting, I attended college in Farmington, Maine, the birthplace of Chester Greenwood. It is true that the town celebrates Chester Greenwood Day every year. However the actual Chester Greenwood Day is December 21 and the parade is always on the first Saturday of the month.
I always thought that Greenwood actually invented earmuffs. Well Meghan McCarthy has done her research and it turns out that he did not actually invent earmuffs, but improved them. Before his patented version, earmuffs did not fit snugly over the ears. I also learned that Thomas Edison did not actually invent the light bulb, but improved it to last longer. Who knew?
I like how McCarthy combined her adorable big-eyed cartoonish characters with factual information and recreations of original documents. Readers will learn about invention patents and a bit about Greenwood himself. The story and the author's note explain how difficult it was to sift through what was true and what was not true about Greenwood. I would recommend this book as part of a classroom library biographies. It would make a good read aloud for grades 2-5.
How Stuff Works has a nice, quick video about Chester and his ear protectors.
Here are a few other books about kid inventors:
Please visit Meghan McCarthy's website to learn more about her and her books.