________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013


Making Contact! Marconi Goes Wireless. (Great Ideas Series).

Monica Kulling. Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-378-0 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-77049-379-7 (ebook).

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



There was a time all round the world when Radio was queen. She waited grandly in the room for her subjects to gather at her feet. "Give me your ears. Listen," she said. So we sat quietly, hearing stories that took us to other worlds; listening to the sounds of horses' hooves, block hitting block - Clip-clop. Clip-clop. We did nothing but listen. Imagine.


In the fifth of the “Great Idea” series, this vibrant picture book biography gives readers a glimpse into the life of renowned inventor Guglielmo Marconi. The prose-poem introduction above sets the tone of the book and instantly provides an awareness of the impact of wireless upon the world. Children aged five to eight are introduced to factors that inspired Marconi's imagination and that led to one of the most significant discoveries of the last century.

internal art     Unlike some of the other characters featured in this series (e.g. Elijah McCoy, Margaret Knight ) Marconi, born in Bologna, Italy, came from a background of privilege and wealth. Though initially a mediocre student, Marconi’s enthusiasm for learning about all things electrical was a constant fascination for him. As he matured, he steeped himself in Heinrich Hertz's writings on radio waves and became intrigued by Morse Code, the language of the telegraph. With these inspirations before him, he pursued the idea of finding a way to use radio waves to send messages. As a very young man, he invented a wireless telegraph which he demonstrated by successfully sending messages between land and sea for the benefit of no less a personage than Queen Victoria. Finally, in 1901, he successfully transmitted a message from Cornwall, England, to St. John's, Newfoundland.

      Once again, Monica Kulling has whetted readers’ appetites, tempting them to learn more about one of the iconic inventors and inventions of modern history. Making Contact! is a practical introductory nonfiction title for a young age group, being readable, informative and humorous, combining science with personal anecdotes. Tidbits of information, such as the bitter-sweet story of the use of Marconi's invention on the Titanic or why Queen Victoria was keen to experiment with the telegraph add an extra human dimension. Sources used are listed.

      The powerful, detailed illustrations created by Nova Scotia award-winning illustrator Richard Rudnicki add to the story and bring Marconi and his times very much to life, capturing the atmosphere of an age with many period details. Energetic realistic portraiture and landscapes, rendered in acrylics on watercolor paper, often over double-page spreads, stay true to the text. They provide much whimsical detail which intrigues the eye and is as much a source of learning and pondering as the text.

      Monica Kulling is a well-known and prolific award-winning author, and this most recent title does not disappoint. She has created another delightful addition to any library or personal bookshelf, a book that will engross readers from the start.

Highly Recommended.

Aileen Wortley, a retired librarian, lives in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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