A Wizard from the Start
written and illustrated by Don Brown
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 2010
Source: Mebane Public Library
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Thomas Edison learned from an early age about invention and industriousness from his father. Samuel Edison built a one hundred foot tower next to his home in order to charge locals twenty-five cents for a view. The tower didn't make the Edison family rich, but it illustrated how Thomas Edison was able later in life to keep plugging along despite what others would call "failures". One theme that resonates throughout A Wizard from the Start is how hard Edison worked during his life. As a twelve year old he worked as a "news butch" selling items on trains for fourteen hours a day. At sixteen, he studied eighteen hours a day to learn how to become a telegraph operator. Along with his work ethic, Edison loved reading books and this provided much of his education after he left formal schooling.
A Wizard from the Start gives great insight into the life of Thomas Edison. Author Don Brown's note at the end of the book also shows that Edison was a complicated man with many faults. This would be a good discussion starter for students who are doing a biography study and may run into unflattering details about their subject. This book would also be an excellent resource for showing what life was like for children in Edison's time as many of them worked long hours before child labor laws were enacted much later.
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