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Friday, April 2, 2010

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman



The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman
Publisher: Front Street, An Imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Age Recommendation: 12+
Length: Full Length (189 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 suns
Reviewed by Orchid

Science geek Eddy Thomas can invent useful devices to do anything, except solve his bully problem. Eddy Thomas can read a college physics book, but he can’t read the emotions on the faces of his classmates at Drayton Middle School. He can spend hours tinkering with an invention, but he can’t stand more than a few minutes in a noisy crowd, like the crowd at the science fair, which Eddy fails to win. When the local school crossing guard is laid off, Eddy is haunted by thoughts of the potentially disastrous consequences and invents a traffic-calming device, using parts he has scavenged from discarded machines. Eddy also discovers new friends, who appreciate his abilities and respect his unique view of the world. By trusting his real friends, Eddy uses his talents to help others and rethinks his purely mechanical definition of success.

Eddy Thomas, is an only child and a genius. Named after Thomas Edison, he prefers to be called Eddy. His mind is full of facts, figures and inventions waiting for him to find the time to take them from thoughts to reality. He leads a lonely life without any real friends. Even his parents don’t really understand how his mind works.

Eddy has problems interacting with people. He doesn’t like to be touched, and is overwhelmed by crowds and loud noises. He consistently misunderstands comments made by others, and either doesn’t reply, or says the wrong thing. To his peers this attitude makes it appear he thinks himself superior. Eddy lives so much inside his own mind that he is totally unaware how others laugh and make fun of him.

Mitch is his only friend. They met at kindergarten and have gone through school together, but has Mitch changed now they are in Middle School? Why do things always go wrong when Mitch is around? Eddy’s faith in himself is shaken when he doesn’t get first prize at the school’s science fair. Even worse, someone stuck a sign on his back and people laughed at him when he went on stage to receive his third place certificate.

His experience at the science fair makes him aware of how see him. This makes him mistrust those who genuinely offer him friendship.

The crossing patrol man leaves and is not replaced. Eddy decides something needs to be done to make the crossing safe from speeding cars and his inventive mind gets to work. His invention proves he can put others before himself and Eddy suddenly finds himself with friends. Or are they really friends? Why would they want to help someone like him?

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas gives an insight into an intelligent child who has difficulty interacting socially with others. That doesn’t mean it preaches to the reader – it doesn’t. The story is in Eddy’s head shows how he logically goes from one point to another.

Despite his introversion Eddy is a likeable character, totally unable to see how others tease him. He just doesn’t understand their jokes and sarcasm. He thinks others work things out the same way he does, and can’t believe they just do things without due thought or having a schedule to follow.

I liked reading this book. Although not a page turner, it had that something that kept me coming back until I reached the end. Those readers with an interest in science will find something to pique their interest, but if you’re not a science fanatic, don’t worry – the facts aren’t force fed to you. The book has an inspirational touch to it and would make a pleasant read for anyone over the age of twelve.



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