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Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor    by Emily Arnold McCully order for
Marvelous Mattie
by Emily Arnold McCully
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This is one of the first non-fiction picture books that I have read, and it is a good one. Margaret Knight, known as Mattie, lived in the mid-19th century. In an era where women were not valued for their intelligence, Mattie, at a very young age, was fascinated by machinery and how things worked.

Due to her family's financial circumstances, Mattie went to work in a factory, where she witnessed someone suffer a severe injury from a machine. Mattie immediately invented a metal guard, which prevented that kind of injury from occurring again. She was discouraged from seeking a patent for that invention because she was female. She was only twelve at the time.

When she got older, she moved around the country, finally ending up at a factory. She invented a paper bag machine, which is still in use to this day. She had to go to court to prove that it was her original invention. Ultimately, Mattie was offered $50,000 for it, a great deal of money at the time, but she chose to market it herself and open up her own shop.

This is a wonderful book and offers a great message: that girls can do or be anything they want, and should not be discouraged from following their dreams. And, regardless of sex, youth should not be a discouraging factor either.

Marvelous Mattie is most appropriate for slightly older children, due to its complexity, length, and subject matter. The story illustrations are accompanied by sketches and drawings of Mattie's inventions, which add greatly to the appeal.

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