Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at – The Inventor’s Secret

I can’t count the times my daughter asks to do an art project with me or wants to learn a new instrument like the piano, violin, or guitar. It doesn’t take long before she pushes the project away or abandons the instrument only to say, “I’ll never get good at this!” Or… “You’re so much better at this than I am.” Followed by… “What’s the point of trying?”

I make two cups of hot cocoa, a bowl of buttery popcorn, give her hugs, and plenty of encouragement. Then I tell her stories from my childhood.

“When I was a child, I sat with my mother at the kitchen table to work on an art project and felt discouraged because my mother, a scientific illustrator for the Field Museum in Chicago, clearly had more talent than I did. When I played the piano and made mistakes, my mother would sit beside me and play the piece so I could hear the song properly and get the melody in my ear. Mom was an accomplished pianist, so naturally the difference in our playing was there for anyone listening to hear. I didn’t see the point in continuing. When I wanted to quit piano lessons, my mom agreed and told me I was never to touch the piano again.


Talk about the cookie jar on the top shelf. Three days passed. Then, I couldn’t take it. Suddenly, I wanted to play the piano so much I asked my mom to please reinstate my lessons. Secretly, Mom knew I would cave in and had never called my piano teacher to cancel lessons. I practiced every day and eventually improved and enjoyed playing the piano for my own pleasure. My point is that you can’t expect to have professional results the first time you try something.” I said to my daughter. “Everything in this world worth having takes time, dedication, love, and commitment.”

This leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF)

Title – The Inventor’s Secret – What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford (click here to view on Amazon.)

Written by – Suzanne Slade

*Illustrated by – Jennifer Black Reinhardt

*Published by – Charlesbridge – 2015

*Suitable for ages – * NSTA 2016 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 *

*Topics/theme  determination

*Opening – Not so long ago the world was a little slower. A little simpler. And a whole lot quieter. No airplanes roaring overhead. No cars rumbling down roads. No phones ringing in pockets. Then things began to change–because of two curious boys, Thomas and Henry. And one secret.

Jacket copy  – Thomas was curious about electricity–invisible energy that flowed and stopped, sizzled and popped.

Henry was curious about engines–machines that chugged and purred, hiccupped and whirred.

The boys’ curiosity got them in a heap of trouble, but later led to some to the greatest inventions of all time!

When Thomas Edison grew up, he invented the electric pen, phonograph, light bulb, and more. Henry Ford dreamed of inventing a car–a road engine that hardworking families could afford. But year after year, Henry’s engine designs were a flop, while the whole country was crazy about Thomas’s inventions.

Henry was frustrated. He wanted to give up! And he kept wondering… What’s Thomas’s secret!

Amazon Review – Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started off as insatiably curious tinkerers. That curiosity led them to become inventors–with very different results. As Edison invented hit after commercial hit, gaining fame and fortune, Henry struggled to make a single invention (an affordable car) work. Witnessing Thomas’s glorious career from afar, a frustrated Henry wondered about the secret to his success.

This little-known story is a fresh, kid-friendly way to show how Thomas Edison and Henry Ford grew up to be the most famous inventors in the world–and best friends, too.

Why do I like this book? Although the retelling of the experiments, failures and successes take place around 100 years ago, the secret to what it takes to succeed is timeless and will surely inspire all who read this book, children and grownups alike. The illustrations are created with a happy heart of one of my favorite illustrators, Jennifer Black Reinhardt. Her artwork is brimming with details and colors children will enjoy looking at again and again.

Author – Visit Suzanne Slade here.

Illustrator – Visit Jennifer Black Reinhardt here.

16 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at – The Inventor’s Secret

  1. Jilanne, The book is definitely perfect for older kids, too (and adults). I learned many new things and enjoyed the lively way it is written as well as the illustrations (LOVE the illustrations!) If you’re planning on writing narrative nonfiction, you’re right, this is a wonderful mentor text.


  2. Thanks for reviewing this book. I just heard about it earlier this week. Also thanks for sharing your story from your childhood. Sadly my daughter (when she was 5) played piano for a year then quit and hasn’t gone back. Now she (almost 8) has picked up guitar and tells me she wants to go back to piano since it was ‘easier’. I said she had to stick with the guitar and that she needs to be patient with herself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How amazing that our daughters moved from piano to guitar. My daughter is ten and started lessons at the end of December. She, too, complains at times that learning the chords is challenging, but like you, I gave her very similar advice. Knowing how to play a musical instrument is a skill you can take with you through life.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such an inspiring story — even the greatest inventors had their failures, successes and were filled with doubt. I really love how this story is presented to children.

    Your mother was wise. I was one of those kids you didn’t tell “you can’t do that,” because I was even more determined to succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Suzanne, what an honor to have you visiting my blog. I found your book quite inspiring and informative. In most of what I have read about Henry Ford, I never knew what he was like as a child, likewise for Thomas Edison. I also didn’t realize That the Model T Ford was preceded by 19 other attempts at building an affordable car. Your natural storytelling voice paired with the lively illustrations of Jennifer Black Reinhardt make for a perfect and satisfying reading experience.


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