Reviewer Conny Withay:Operating her own business in office management since 1991, Conny is an avid reader, volunteers reading the Bible to the elderly, and makes handmade jewelry. A cum laude graduate with a degree in art living in the Pacific Northwest, she is married with two sons, two daughter-in-laws, and one granddaughter.
Authors: Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon
Illustrator: David Wenzel
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0 -689-87026-2
“Alexander Graham Bell didn’t set out to invent the telephone so that my friends and I could make plans to go to the mall; he wanted to create something that would make the world a better place for deaf people,” Abigail explains in Blast to the Past #2 Bell’s Breakthrough, a children’s book written by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon.
With one hundred and five pages, this paperback book is targeted toward ages seven to ten years old, has no profanity and no questionable or scary scenes. Illustrator David Wenzel portrays four children on a phone with Alexander Bell talking into a cone on the front cover. The back cover has two paragraphs about the book and a drawing of Bell and mentions the two prior books in the series. Inside there are ten black and white drawings along with a black and white photograph of a painting by W.A. Rogers. Also included at the end of the book is an explanation by the authors of fact verses fiction about Bell and his inventions along with the first two pages of the next book in the series.
The main object of this series is to ask young children what if a person in the past did not create, state, make or invent something that changed our lives today but quit instead. This book hones in on Alexander Graham Bell and his machinist assistant Thomas A. Watson inventing the telephone on March 10, 1876.
Third grader Abigail writes in first person how her history teacher asks twins Zack and Jacob, new student Bo and her to use his time machine to go back in time and convince Mr. Bell to complete his electric speech apparatus. With only two hours to complete the task, the group ends up in Mabel Hubbard’s bedroom, where the deaf girl is too sick to deliver a painting of an owl that she did for her fiancé, Aleck Bell. They offer to deliver the painting and when they arrive at the inventor’s boarding house, they are tricked by Bell into thinking he is Watson. After they realize who he is, there is a fire in a nearby building and everyone wishes there was a faster way to contact the fire station. The kids convince Bell to travel to current time and see the twins’ firefighter father, to verify how the telephone and 9-1-1 saves lives. A fire alarm sounds while they are there and Bell jumps on a fire truck as it goes to a fire in the children’s neighborhood. A deaf neighbor used her special machine to call in the alarm and later she shows Bell its purpose. Bell is inspired by it and realizes that battery acid is the clue to solving his phone problem. Going back in time, they help Bell and Watson rewire and make the first telephone call, just in time for the children to get back to the current hour.
The fun in this story is that one not only learns Alexander Graham Bell’s mother was death and he taught sign language, but also his wife Mabel was deaf too. One learns a little about teletypes, telegraphs and how telephones are put together, told in an engaging, interesting way even though it is historical fiction. Another great educational book read that not only children will enjoy, but adults can see the humor behind the owl painting Bell’s future wife did for him in lieu his working all hours of the night.