Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy.  (Grades K-5.) Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2010.  Unpaged.  Review copy provided by my local library.  This title has been nominated for a Cybils Award and this review reflects only my own opinion. 

It was the 1920s and scientists at the candy factory were trying to invent a new kind of gum.  Oh, chewing gum had been around for years and years - Ancient Greeks chewed tree sap from the mastic tree, American Indians chewed spruce tree resin, and, more recently, people chewed gum for fun and health.  But what if people could blow bubbles with their gum?

The scientists were having a time of it.  They couldn't seem to come up with a recipe that would work.  Enter Walter Diemer.  Walter was an accountant at the candy factory and when an experimental lab was moved into the office next to his, he watched what was going on.  Eventually, he started some of his own experiments and, after months of trying different ingredients, he found a recipe that worked!  Bubble gum was born!

What a fun, fun book!  From the colorful cartoon illustrations to the subject matter, this book calls out to kids.  Fun facts are slipped in at every turn.  For instance, did you know that bubble gum is pink because it was the only coloring Walter had on hand?

Spreads in the back of the book include additional biographical information about Walter Diemer, source notes for quotes, and many fun facts about gum.  This is an invaluable resource if you've got kids who do projects on inventions.  It includes enough information for a short report (and what a fun project that would be!) and presents the information in a really accessible way.

Meghan McCarthy's colorful illustrations add to the text, depicting happy cartoon gum-chewers dressed in period-appropriate clothing.  The colors she chooses for the spreads reflect the mood of the text.  When Walter is wonderingly experimenting and adding ingredients, the spread is a hushed blue tone.  When his first exciting batch ends up hard as a rock the next day, the spread is all black with Walter sitting under a lone light, head in his hands.

Get your hands on this book!  I'm a big fan of Meghan McCarthy's work and this is one of my favorites.  (Incidentally, she is working on Balto next!!!  I love Balto!!!!!)

Check out more reviews at Rasco from RIF, The Joys of Reading, and This Purple Crayon.

Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum is on shelves now!!