Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? Garrett Morgan’s story is truly amazing and I regret to say I had never heard of him! He was born into a sharecropper family, but moved to Ohio to further his education and have access to more opportunities. He worked his way up until he opened his own sewing machine business, and in the meantime worked on various inventions to solve problems he saw or faced himself. One invention was a hood for firefighters to wear to help breathe in smoky rooms (which was eventually used to create the gas masks used in WWI). He truly became a hero when he risked his life testing the hood to save men trapped in a tunnel after an explosion. Readers are repeatedly reminded of the racial discrimination he faced, including not being recognized for his heroism when the white volunteers were given medals for the same action. The illustrations match the mood of what is happening in the story at the time, alternating between a light brown background for most of his story, but switching to a black background for major action when fire was involved. I also appreciated the timeline at the back of the book, which listed many more of Morgan’s achievements which were not highlighted in the story.
Anything you did not like about the book. There is an emphasis on Morgan’s hard work leading to his success, without including other contributing factors. By overemphasizing hard work too much, I worry we give the wrong impression that those who were not successful simply did not work hard enough.
To whom would you recommend this book? Readers who like picture book biographies, especially those involving some action. Read-alike for Bad News for Outlaws.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school librarians, public librarians
Where would you shelve it? Biographies
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts
Date of review: Nov. 3, 2019