All Aboard!

Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday

hosted today by Wendie's Wanderings
Tundra Books
(pub. 8.10.10) 32 pages

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Monica Kulling

    Illustrator: Bill Slavin
C haracter: Elijah McCoy
O verview from jacket flap: 
      "The year was 1860, and Elijah McCoy, the son of slaves, dreamed of becoming a mechanical engineer.  He studied in Scotland, where he learned everything there was to know about engines - how to design them and how to build them. But when he came home to look for work at the Michigan Central Railroad, the only job Elijah could get was shoveling coal into a train's firebox! What Elijah lacked in opportunity, he more than made up for in ingenuity."

T antalizing taste: 
       "The engine huffed and puffed.  Smoke billowed form its stack. The wheels clacked. The train chugged along for half an hour.  Chug! Chug! Chug!
        Everyone wondered when the train would stop. But it didn't. It chugged along for another half hour.  And another.
        Elijah McCoy's oil cup worked!"   

and something more:   I was drawn to this picture book biography, All Aboard!, about a boy who "had come to Canada on the Underground Railroad" and then eventually became an inventor for the railroads. His  parents "saved every penny they could to send Elijah to school.  At sixteen, he crossed the ocean to study in Scotland. Elijah had a dream: he wanted to work with machines.  He wanted to become a mechanical engineer. And he did.  And, as the note at the back states, "He was an inventing marvel.  During his lifetime, he filed 57 patents ...  Most of his inventions had to do with engines, but several did not. Elijah invented a portable ironing board, a lawn sprinkler, and even a better rubber heel for shoes."  And the expression, the "real McCoy" is based on him!  "Other inventors copied Elijah McCoy's oil cup [for train engines], but their drip cups didn't work as well."  I love learning about the derivation of expressions.

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