The Firehouse Light

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday 
hosted today by Amy O'Quinn

Tricyle Press (Random House)
(pub. 5.25.2010)  32 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top 

A uthor: Janet Nolan
         Illustrator:  Marie Lafrance

C haracter: a lightbulb
O verview from jacket flap: 
      "Here is the true story of a little lightbulb, located in a firehouse, that has stayed lit for more than one hundred years.  As horse-drawn carriages make room for automobiles, dirt roads give way to paved streets, and new buildings transform small clusters of homes into bustling neighborhoods, a small town grows and changes.  And fighting fires changes, too: fires once fought by bucket brigades and hand-pulled hose carts are now attended by full-time firefighters and modern firetrucks.  Yet now, just like then, the lightbulb grows, strong and steady, above the brave firefighters and their trucks."
T antalizing taste: 
       "Finding firefighting equipment in the dark was not easy. Then one day a businessman gave the firefighters a gift.  No longer would they have to waste time lighting lanterns.  A wire burning inside a ball of glass would light the way. Day after day, year after year, the ligthbulb did not burn out...
       Strong and steady, it still glows above the heads of firefighters - it burns when they leave to fight a fire and stays lit after they return."

and something more:   Of course, I had to check out the lightbulb's website which includes a link to a professor of physics and her grad student's interesting research paper regarding this amazing lightbulb that just celebrated its 110th anniversary this past June.
      And, as a writer, I'm always curious about the inspiration for books. Janet Nolan, the author of this nonfiction picture book, The Firehouse Light, explained her reaction to the lightbulb story in a Publisher's Weekly interview: "'I walked around in an excited daze for a while... I kept thinking of all the things that have happened—all the things that have been invented and all the wars fought —while this tiny lightbulb kept burning. In our disposable society, it struck me as awe-inspiring.'"  
      What a great way for children to think about history and culture -- the transformations in American society and firefighting, and the concept of quality.  The grad student's research paper states that the "intention of the [Shelby Electric] company [that developed this particular lightbulb] is not to make lamps to see how cheaply they can be made, but to see how well they can be made."  I only live a hour or so from the lightbulb's firehouse -- I'm planning a visit!


Amy O'Quinn said...

This book sounds interesting and delightful. I can tell it's one my children and I would ALL enjoy! Thanks for the suggestion AND for participating in this week's Nonfiction Monday round-up. As a first-time host, I've really enjoyed the experience and meeting the participants. Plus the featured titles have been awesome!

Tammy Flanders said...

How interesting. Quality vs. expendibility. Enjoy your field trip.
Thanks for the recommendation.
Apples with Many Seeds

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks for your notes, Amy and Tammy. And, Tammy, I had planned to list last week's post on your Nonfiction Monday site... but I was on vacation and forgot! But I still referenced your blog, Apple With Many Seeds, with my post about Queen of the Falls.