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All Aboard!: Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine [Hardcover]

Monica Kulling , Bill Slavin
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.99
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Book Description

Aug. 10 2010 Great Idea Series
In the second of Tundra's Great Idea series, biographies for children who are just starting to read, Monica Kulling presents the life of an extraordinary man.

There were few opportunities for the son of slaves, but Elijah McCoy's dreams led him to study mechanical engineering in Scotland. He learned everything there was to know about engines - how to design them and how to build them. But when he returned to the United States to look for work at the Michigan Central Railroad, the only job Elijah could get was shoveling coal into a train's firebox.

Undaunted, he went on to invent a means of oiling the engine while the train was running, changing the face of travel around the world.

With playful text and lively illustrations, All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine may be the first biography a child discovers, and it will whet the appetite for many more.

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Review

"When I read Monica Kulling's retelling of the life of Elijah McCoy I felt the same sense of wonder and curiosity that I first experienced when I was initially introduced to this enigmatic, inventive, and charismatic figure. Bill Slavin's images are absolutely beautiful. My daughters LOVE it."
Andrew Moodie, author of The Real McCoy

“an engaging biography of the African-American inventor . . . The narrative includes fictionalized dialogue and clear explanations about how the machinery works and concludes with an inspiring message . . .” 
— School Library Journal

About the Author

MONICA KULLING was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. A poet, she has also published many books for children. Best known for her clear and engaging biographies, she has tackled subjects ranging from Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt to Harry Houdini. Her book It's A Snap! George Eastman's First Photo, illustrated by Bill Slavin, was the first in Tundra's Great Idea Series. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto.

BILL SLAVIN has garnered many awards for the over seventy books for children he has illustrated, including The Big Book of Canada by Christopher Moore and The Library Book: The Story of Libraries from Camels to Computers by Maureen Sawa. Among his many honors, he has won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, and The Blue Spruce Children's Choice Award.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Early Black Inventor Sept. 15 2010
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Reason for Reading: Taking my turn before handing it over for a bedtime read to my son, who is very much into inventors right now.

Lovely little first biography for picture book age children or older struggling readers who still like their books filled with illustrations. Of course, Elijah's life is told briefly and rapidly but it manages to hit upon all the major events of his life leading up to the invention of his oil cup which revolutionized steam travel. Not only do we get the facts of this young man's life, we also get insight into the era and the treatment of Blacks in the US and child labour in general. Canadian born Elijah, educated in Scotland, returned to his family now living back in the US, first meets up with a white man's disdain and ignorance as he tries to get a job designing train engines and ends up being an ashcat, the person who feeds the coal into the engine. Along with him is a small white boy, his "grease monkey" who keeps all the parts well oiled climbing under and over the engine in a dangerous job. These injustices though are what keep Elijah up at nights trying to figure out a way to fix the steam engine that causes their job to be so dangerous and tiresome, and for train travel to be so slow.

The writing is age appropriate and interesting and doesn't talk down to its audience giving a good clear picture of the process an engineer and inventor must go through. Slavin's illustrations are wonderful old-style paintings that fit the text perfectly. The story goes on to end with a small page telling where the phrase "the real McCoy" came from and how Elijah had a life filled with engine inventions and even some inventions that had nothing to do with engines, such as a portable ironing board. Young children will enjoy Elijah's story and older ones may be inspired to finding out more about him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute delight Dec 10 2010
Format:Hardcover
This is a wonderful story presented in gorgeous fashion. Kulling's prose is precise and vivid and her narrative beautifully paced. She deals with McCoy's family background (his parents were slaves who came to Ontario on the Underground Railroad; he faced racial discrimination when seeking his first job) with compact matter-of-factness. Kulling never minimizes the uncomfortable question of race, yet keeps McCoy's inventive genius at the centre of the story. The drama of McCoy's first real invention is genuinely suspenseful: will it work?

Slavin's illustrations are beautiful, moving, and wonderfully detailed - the sort to pore over for long minutes after the story's over. Overall, All Aboard! is a triumph.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone will love ALL ABOARD Sept. 15 2010
Format:Hardcover
ALL ABOARD! ELIJAH McCOY'S STEAM ENGINE is another wonderful book in Monica Kulling's series about inventors. She brings a light humorous touch to a fascinating topic, the invention of the oil cup that oils the engine while the train is running. Her playful text is matched by Bill Slavin's whimsical illustrations. Girls and boys alike will be intrigued by the way Kulling captures the delight of the young Elijah who waits for his father's mowing machine to break and when it does, "he jumped for joy." Why? "Elijah was only six, but already he was good at tinkering with tools." And don't miss the beautiful poem with which Kulling begins the book, a lovely feature of each book in the series.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Early Black Inventor Sept. 15 2010
By Nicola Mansfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Reason for Reading: Taking my turn before handing it over for a bedtime read to my son, who is very much into inventors right now.

Lovely little first biography for picture book age children or older struggling readers who still like their books filled with illustrations. Of course, Elijah's life is told briefly and rapidly but it manages to hit upon all the major events of his life leading up to the invention of his oil cup which revolutionized steam travel. Not only do we get the facts of this young man's life, we also get insight into the era and the treatment of Blacks in the US and child labour in general. Canadian born Elijah, educated in Scotland, returned to his family now living back in the US, first meets up with a white man's disdain and ignorance as he tries to get a job designing train engines and ends up being an ashcat, the person who feeds the coal into the engine. Along with him is a small white boy, his "grease monkey" who keeps all the parts well oiled climbing under and over the engine in a dangerous job. These injustices though are what keep Elijah up at nights trying to figure out a way to fix the steam engine that causes their job to be so dangerous and tiresome, and for train travel to be so slow.

The writing is age appropriate and interesting and doesn't talk down to its audience giving a good clear picture of the process an engineer and inventor must go through. Slavin's illustrations are wonderful old-style paintings that fit the text perfectly. The story goes on to end with a small page telling where the phrase "the real McCoy" came from and how Elijah had a life filled with engine inventions and even some inventions that had nothing to do with engines, such as a portable ironing board. Young children will enjoy Elijah's story and older ones may be inspired to finding out more about him.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Climb Aboard Sept. 23 2010
By S Hughes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
ALL ABOARD! ELIJAH McCOY'S STEAM ENGINE is another wonderful book in Monica Kulling's series about inventors. She brings a light humorous touch to a fascinating topic, the invention of the oil cup that oils the engine while the train is running. Her playful text is matched by Bill Slavin's whimsical illustrations. Girls and boys alike will be intrigued by the way Kulling captures the delight of the young Elijah who waits for his father's mowing machine to break and when it does, "he jumped for joy." Why? "Elijah was only six, but already he was good at tinkering with tools." And don't miss the beautiful poem with which Kulling begins the book, a lovely feature of each book in the series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ... Oct. 28 2010
By Ulyyf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This was an acceptable book. Unfortunately, I don't have it to hand for this review, so it'll be a short one.

All the necessary details of Elijah McCoy's life were covered - unfortunately, the author saw fit to put in that spurious nonsense about "the real McCoy" - a cute story, but the phrase predates the man, and so could not POSSIBLY have come from his inventions.

I did feel it jumped around a bit, especially during his childhood.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Aboard! Sept. 3 2010
By B. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Monica Kulling excels at taking a moment in history, oftentimes a forgotten moment, and creating a story that is compelling even as it is informative! "All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine" is the story of Elijah, an indomitable character with big dreams.

His parents, once enslaved, had escaped to Canada on the Underground Railroad. It's 1860 and Elijah dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer. His parents work hard, saving their money to send Elijah to study in Scotland. When he returns to his family, now living in Michigan, he's excited! Elijah knows "engines inside and out. He knew how to design them. He knew how to build them." But he soon realizes that there are not many opportunities for a young black man. Elijah needs work, and takes a job shoveling coal into the firebox. But as he discovers, it's a dangerous job.

So unfolds the charming story how Elijah McCoy invents the oil cup that oils the engine WHILE the train is running. We even learn the true meaning of the term "grease monkey." Monica's rhythmic, playful prose reflects the sights and sounds of the steam engine: "The engine huffed and puffed. Smoke billowed from its stack. The wheels clacked. The locomotive chugged along for about half an hour. Chug! Chug! Chug!"

Bill Slavin uses pen with ink on watercolor to bring Elijah - and his steam engine - to life. The illustrations puff and chug and roll across double page spreads. For the train enthusiast, and for anyone who just likes a great story, this book is a wonderful addition to your library!
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book but expensive June 25 2011
By Karina Abernathy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a nice book for elementary school readers. The style and the pictures deserve a 5 star, but I give it a 4 because of price. I would still catergorize it as a picture book and you know how expensive hard back thin books are. I am sure most library systems around the country have this which is where I got the one I am reading. I am hoping to find one at a goodwill or salvation army for a buck because I really don't like spending a lot of money on books, especially children books.
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