Just Like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines

illus. by Robert Neubecker. 48p. bibliog. S. & S./Beach Lane. Mar. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481476683.
Gr 3–5—Everyone loves a Rube Goldberg machine, whether you've been mesmerized by a complicated toast-making, orange juice pouring contraption in a movie (you know the type), played Mousetrap, or worked on a slightly wacky high school science project to build one yourself. Aronson's picture book biography recounts moments from the life of an imaginative young boy turned discontented engineer turned driven newspaper cartoonist. Goldberg's observant nature and playful spirit produced decades of popular diagrams of totally unlikely and labyrinthine inventions for the world to enjoy. Aronson's narrative hovers between thoughtful biography and an inspirational tribute to Goldberg's work, which will leave readers wanting more information, especially about the cultural legacy of his ubiquitous cartoons. Neubecker's illustrations are animated and precise, connecting the unpredictable threads of the cartoonist's life to the spirit of his inventions. An image of a dizzyingly complicated sewer system calls to mind the early 20th-century milieu of discovery, invention, and rapid social change in which Goldberg's work was born and flourished.
VERDICT Playful illustrations drive this loving biography for elementary-school-age inventors and dreamers.

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