Nicknamed "Qwerty" after the six letters on the top left side of a keyboard, 13-year-old Robert Edward Stevens, a computer-loving boy, digs up a mysterious box labeled "Thomas A. Edison" in his West Orange, New Jersey back yard. Inside is an unusual machine which appears to have been buried for more than 120 years. Hooking up the Anywhere Anytime Machine to his computer, Qwerty finds himself summoned back in time, via Morse code, by Edison himself. Interspersed with photos of Edison and his inventions, this entertaining time travel fantasy adventure gives a view of the eccentric inventor as he races to find a perfect filament for his new incandescent electric lamp.
This one's a great read-alone, sure, but also a spiffy classroom read-aloud or Book Club selection to discuss. Readers can learn the Morse Code, talk about the impact of Edison's achievements on their own lives, research some of his 1,093 inventions, and make a list of additional inventions of the past century that have affected their lives. Using their imaginations, prospective inventors can come up with a drawing and description of a useful item that the world still needs. For facts and lots of photos, pair this with Inventing the Future: A Photobiography of Thomas Alva Edison by Marie Ferguson Delano. In his second adventure, Qwerty meets up with another iconic inventor in Qwerty Stevens, Stuck in Time with Benjamin Franklin.
Reviewed by JF.
THEMES: ADVENTURE & ADVENTURERS. HISTORICAL FICTION. INVENTIONS AND INVENTORS.
Simon & Schuster, 2001
Suggested Ages: 8 and Up