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What Color Is My World?: 10/04/13
I grew up in a household full of late 19th century, and early 20th century American antiques. Although my father wasn't yet an antique dealer, he did later change careers and become one. His specialty is music and the machines to play them on — phonographs. He also has a thing for vintage American cars. So our home was (and their home still is) full of vintage technology.
Along with having this technology was keeping it running. That meant learning everything possible about it including the companies and people who designed and built them. And that in turn meant a much broader appreciation of the work behind innovation. Edison and Bell, for instance, were business owners — not the great inventing heros as taught in school. Yes, of course they did also invent things but their lasting success (brand recognition, if you will) was through hiring many talented scientists and engineers, as well as sales and marketing people.
The second thing during my childhood was that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a NBA basketball player who was also sometimes an actor. Since then he's worn many hats including U.S. Cultural Ambassador and author. His latest book is What Color is My World? which celebrates the contributions of African American innovators.
This nonfiction picture book is framed around the story of two kids bored during a move. They're far away from their friends and they don't know what to do. A mysterious handyman takes them through each room of the house and tells them about the African American inventors who have helped make modern life possible.
Included with the framing story are longer biographical blurbs about some of the inventors. If anything, I wanted more from this book. I realize the length is to make it accessible to young readers but I would love to see an expanded version for older children who might want to learn more.