Snowmobile: Bombardier's Dream Machine
Jules Older & Michael Lauritano
Charlesbridge, 2012 (2012)
Reviewed by Bob Walch
Junior Library Guild Selection, this illustrated biography for young readers (ages seven and older) focuses on the life of Joseph-Armand Bombardier and his single-minded effort to create a vehicle that would enable people to get around in snow covered areas.
orn and raised in the small village of Valcourt, Quebec, in 1907 Bombardier was fascinated by motors and automobiles. Although his father wanted the young boy to become a priest, Bombardier wanted to be an auto mechanic. He traveled to Montreal where he studied and worked in a garage learning the skills that would make him a top notch mechanic.
arly in his life Bombardier became obsessed with constructing a snow vehicle. His early attempts weren't too successful but he continued to experiment and try different means of propelling the heavy chassis across the snow.
hen one of his children died during the winter when they couldn't get the boy to a hospital because of the deep snow, Bombardier intensified his efforts to create a workable snow vehicle.
hree years after his child's untimely death in 1937, Bombardier succeeded. The snowmobile he dubbed '
' (made by Bombardier, carries seven people) changed the lives of snowbound people in rural communities. The odd looking vehicle carried mail and children to school. It carried supplies such as food to stock stores. And, perhaps most important, the B7 made it possible for doctors to reach patients in isolated places and, if necessary, get them to a hospital.
oung readers, especially those interested in mechanical things, will enjoy this short biography of a man whose name eventually was known all over North America. The only criticism I have of this story is that it really makes no mention of the huge company that today carries Bombardier's name and makes everything from rapid transit equipment to jet planes. The focus is only on the snowmobile, which is fine, but I would have thought it would make sense to at least allude to the fact that from such humble beginnings the firm grew to be a worldwide leader in transportation.
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