Reviews for Boy Who Invented TV : The Story of Philo Farnsworth

Booklist Reviews 2009 June #1
When Philo Farnsworth was growing up at the turn of the last century, electricity was hard to come by, but he was intrigued by new inventions like the phonograph. By the time he was 11, there were power lines around the family farm. He was particularly intrigued by what was then just a thought: television. At 14, Philo was plowing a field, and the parallel lines sparked an idea about breaking down images into lines of light, capturing them and transmitting them into electrons that would be resassembled into a complete picture. In an attention-holding narrative, Krull explains how Farnsworth held on to his dream to develop television, and in smart, concise fashion ably explains scientific concepts behind it. It will take reading the afterword, however, to understand how RCA virtually took the patent away from him. Philo usually looks more like a man than a boy in the pictures, but the oversize artwork cleverly incorporates images from Sears, Roebuck catalogs and scientific diagrams to extend the story. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
Krull asks her audience to imagine life in 1906 (the year of Farnsworth's birth): "No refrigerators...few phones...And there was no television." She continues in this engaging, easygoing tone as she describes Farnsworth's early life. The book ends with Philo, age twenty-two, reading an article about his "revolutionary light machine." Couch's muted mixed-media illustrations are illuminated with splashes of light. Reading list, websites. Bib. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #6
To help young readers -- raised with the Internet, iPods, and instant messaging -- understand and appreciate Philo Farnsworth's groundbreaking invention, Krull first asks her audience to imagine life in 1906 (the year of Farnsworth's birth): "No refrigerators, no cars, few phones, hardly any indoor bathrooms...Movies -- no. Radio -- no...And there was no television. That's right. NO TV." Krull continues in this engaging, easygoing tone as she describes Farnsworth's early childhood: "No sooner did Philo Farnsworth learn to talk than he asked a question. Then another, and another." Interested in all things mechanical (a train's engine, telephone, phonograph), Philo soon becomes the family engineer, repairing motors and inventing gadgets to speed up his chores on the farm. And it's ultimately farm work (plowing a potato field in parallel rows) that provides Philo with the breakthrough for how to create television. Krull's biography ends with Philo, at age twenty-two, reading a San Francisco Chronicle article about his "revolutionary light machine," but her author's note gives further details about his life, including the battle he fought against RCA for credit for his invention. Muted and grainy, Couch's mixed-media illustrations are illuminated with startling splashes of light, such as the glow from a light bulb, the sun -- or a television. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 August #2
As soon as Philo Farnsworth learned how to talk, he began asking questions--about how things worked and why things happened. It was this young boy who, while plowing a potato field at 14 years of age, first imagined the principles that gave rise to television. Years passed as he patented his idea and worked hard to develop a prototype. At 21 he finally succeeded, creating a "revolutionary light machine." Krull tells the story of this relatively unknown inventor in forthright and simple text. She weaves together scientific explanations with boyish details of a young lad growing up. Couch's acrylic paintings are awash with the intricate diagrams and schematics that filled Philo's thoughts. And that momentous potato field where Philo first envisions television bursts off the page with the radiant light of discovery. A detailed author's note further explains how the Radio Corporation of America challenged and subsequently disregarded Philo's patent, thrusting him into obscurity. But he never stopped inventing or dreaming of how he could shape the future. Inspiring. (sources) (Picture book/biography. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 August #2

This entertaining book explores the life of inventor Philo Farnsworth, who discovered how to transmit images electronically, leading to the first television. Farnsworth's early days are spent studying science magazines and dreaming about the applications of electricity. Later, Farnsworth persuades investors to fund his efforts, which, with the assistance of his wife, Pem, result in the first, primitive "electronic television" in 1927 (incidentally, Pem became the first person ever to be televised). Krull's substantial, captivating text is balanced by Couch's warm, mixed-media illustrations. His muted tones suggest the grainy light of early TV screens and bring home the message about curiosity and perseverance. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 September

Gr 2-5--Endpapers featuring a photo collage of generations of televisions from the earliest oval-screened version to modern flat screens set the book's context. Then, readers are asked to imagine life when there was no TV, radio was only for the military, news was hard to come by, and people studied the Sears, Roebuck catalog to make their purchases. Juxtaposing the staid images of farm life with fanciful ones depicting Farnsworth's broadening vision, Couch draws, paints, and digitally enhances the story. To show the boy learning about inventors as he studies the stars, Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell appear among the constellations like ancient Greek heroes. While plowing a field, Farnsworth developed the idea for how television could work, inspired by those parallel furrows as a format to transmit an electronic signal. It is the inventor's passion and genius that come through in this picture-book biography that follows him from the three-year-old who drew schematics of train engines, to the teen who automated the clothes washer so he would have more time to read, to the young man who celebrated his invention. Krull's focus is on the boy genius becoming an inventor like his heroes, and only in a note does she mention his struggles with RCA and his bitterness later in life. The facts aren't new, but with Krull building the story and Couch's exceptional images, it's one to inspire young audiences with the vast possibilities that imagination and diligence can accomplish.--Janet S. Thompson, Chicago Public Library

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