Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives written and illustrated by Gene Barretta is a fun family read, that focuses on learning through failure. It opens with the lines, “Have you ever thought about inventing something of your own? You’re never too young to try.” What a fun invitation to spark a dream in a child’s mind. Heck, I will paraphrase that quote and say, “You’re never too old to try.”
Barretta does a great job of connecting specific inventions to how they relate to kids’ lives today. Two-page spreads feature kids enjoying the current versions of an Edison-shaped-invention on the left and Edison’s lab on the right. This helps to sustain the reader’s interest in a topic which might otherwise be a bit dry. The illustrations are energetic and humorous. Those set in current times include a multicultural cast of characters.
Viewing failure as the stepping stone to success is one foundational theme of the book as reflected in this Edison quote: “I know several thousand things that won’t work.” He learned from failure instead of allowing it to end his dreams. Timeless Thomas conveys this essential life lesson well.
Adoption-attuned (AQ) Lens: Throughout their lives, adoptees encounter questions about their origins, the validity and “realness” of their families, and why they were adopted. It is easy to become frustrated and tired of such intrusive questions. This book might help them see that each time they set questioners “straight” they are helping to educate people about adoption. Their efforts contribute to improving our culture’s understanding of adoption.
Young readers might draw another important message: anything worth accomplishing requires great effort, dogged persistence and takes time–lots of it.