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Canada Invents

by Susan Hughes
112 pages,
ISBN: 1894379233

Canada Invents

by Susan Hughes
112 pages,
ISBN: 1894379241


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Children's Books
by Trudee Romanek

If you expect a book on Canadian inventions to be filled with nothing but dusty old characters such as Alexander Graham Bell and Sir Sanford Fleming, Canada Invents, will surprise you. Sure, Susan Hughes has included those world-changing examples of Canadian creativity, but she has also routed out information about such intriguing inventions as diesel fuel made from used fast-food grease, and (my personal favourite) a wearable computer that can adjust your home thermostat via a temperature sensor in your underwear!
Hughes groups more than 130 inventions into themed sections, opening with "Snow and Ice: Inventions to Cope with Canada's Cold." Other sections focus on inventions of energy and power, fun and games, communication, wheeled transportation, flight, food and those that assist or enhance the human body. The variety of inventions presented is wide, ranging from those created by the Inuit centuries ago to those so current they are still in development. Each section contains a two-page "spotlight" on one important inventor or invention. Other creations are presented in anything from a full-page explanation to a brief anecdote. The variety, in both content and design treatments, is one of the book's major strengths. Hughes's language lifts the book beyond the scope of a reference tool. Her energetic, conversational tone gives it personality without compromising its status as an authoritative text. She explains the need that spawned each invention and, in many spots, places an invention within the context of its particular time period. It is useful for kids to know, for example, that Reginald Fessenden, the first person to transmit spoken words using radio waves, was inspired at the age of ten by Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone. Hughes also gives readers many insights into the lives of these creators, the motivations that drove them and the effect that their successes¨or failures¨had on the rest of their lives.
The content of this book should appeal to the full recommended age group of 8 to 12-year-olds and those older as well. If there is a problem with Canada Invents, it is that the language and explanations are often too complex for the youngest of this age group.
In all, Canada Invents is a wonderful way to bring the remarkable and sometimes humorous achievements of Canadians to life for young readers. A valuable reference book for school libraries, it is packed with enough personality to merit a spot on the home bookshelf as well.
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