Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives.
Following his purviews of Ben Franklin (Now & Ben, 2006) and Leonardo da Vinci (Neo Leo, 2009), Barretta applies the same picture-book format to the inventions of Thomas Edison. Left-hand pages show people using modern technology (“Today . . . we can record any sound we like and save it”), while, across the spreads, Barretta reveals the roots found in Edison’s work: “Edison’s tinfoil phonograph was the first device to record sound and play it back.” Barretta covers the expected Edisonian highlights—the telephone, the light bulb, and the battery—alongside other fascinating projects, such as a huge vending machine designed to dole out urban necessities, including coal and produce, or the first movie studio, built on a circular track to allow sunlight to shine through an exposed roof. Chipper cartoon illustrations show a perma-grinning Edison cranking out invention after invention, but Barretta also slyly draws in some of Edison’s employees, who are identified in short concluding biographies, emphasizing that Edison didn’t go it alone. An entertaining, enlightening intro.
— Ian Chipman