Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

10 09 2012

I’ll admit it… I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction books.  There’s just something about an interesting character or a twisting and turning plot that I love, and most non-fiction lacks those qualities.

It’s weird, when I was a kid – probably from 4th through 7th grade – about all I read was non-fiction.  I couldn’t get enough about animals, dinosaurs, ancient mythology, and marine biology.  Thinking about it, I’m pretty sure I read every book that my public library had on those topics – but I never read a book about China or cars or chickens or crafts.  There were just a few topics that really worked for me.

I was really into marine biology, and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what it was about that subject that hooked me, so I asked my mom if she remembered.  She did.  She said it was one book – a fictional story about a boy in the Pacific Northwest who rescues an injured seal.  After that, I couldn’t get enough about aquatic animals and marine research.  I guess sometimes it just takes one thing to trigger that.

None of this has anything to do with Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gumexcept to say that I don’t think non-fiction texts were written like this one back in the day.  If they had been filled with clever writing, fun illustrations, and an interesting part of history – perhaps I would have read more.

Meghan McCarthy’s got a ton of books like this one – strange little moments in history that won’t be in the text books (maybe that’s why the textbooks are so boring), but give you an insight into a unique moment in time.  This one, which is nominated for the Monarch Award (Illinois award for best book grades 1-3), tells about Walter Diemer, a pencil-pusher for a candy company who decides that chewing gum would be so much more fun if you could blow bubbles – so he works and works and works some more, eventually coming up with bubble gum.

There’s a lot here – unsung history, an interesting character, a lesson in innovation and determination, and some really fun illustrations.  Meghan McCarthy’s other books will definitely be on my list for my next library visit.  Who knows, maybe she’ll make a non-fiction reader out of me yet.

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