HomeBooks by AgeAges 9-12Review: The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth

Review: The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth

By Tina Vasquez, for The Children’s Book Review
Published: February 8, 2011

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth

By Kathleen Krull (Author), Greg Couch (Illustrator)

Reading level: Grade 2-5

Hardcover: 29 pages

Publisher: Knopf (September 2009)

Source: Publisher

Here’s an unsettling thought: Imagine life without television. I’m not just talking about modern televisions with their flat screens, HDTV, and streaming video; I’m talking about no TV’s, period. This may be the predicament we would have found ourselves in if it weren’t for Philo Farnsworth. In The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth, we learn about the boy genius who exhibited signs of greatness as young as age three when he drew detailed pictures of the inner workings of trains.

As a young boy, Philo’s heroes were inventors like Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison and though he was a dreamy, imaginative child, he was also very bound to reality. As the oldest of five children, Philo had so many obligations and chores to tend to that it left him little time for his favorite pastimes: reading and practicing his violin. Though he was mechanically-minded, Philo dreamed early on of becoming a touring musician. That dream seemed to become less important when his family moved from Utah to Idaho and had electricity for the first time. It was during that time that Philo began experimenting around the house with homemade mechanisms, immersing himself in science magazines and winning contests for his surprisingly advanced engineering ideas.

Young readers will be in awe of Philo’s incredible mind and adults will appreciate his tenacity and strong work ethic. In The Boy Who Invented TV, you’ll learn that Philo originally came up with the idea for televisions when he was just 14, but it took quite a few years for the idea to come to fruition. Author Kathleen Krull actually does a fantastic job of explaining Philo’s many pursuits, taking technically complicated subject matter and turning it into straightforward, easy to follow subject matter that is both informative and interesting. With her words, she paints the perfect picture of the young boy genius and illustrator Greg Couch brings her words to life. Couch’s muted, cloudy illustrations are realistic and warm, providing insight into the America of the early 1900’s.

The Boy Who Invented TV would make the perfect addition to any classroom or serve as a great bedtime story for children as precocious as Philo Farnsworth. And who knows? This may be the story that inspires America’s next great inventor.

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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