Beulah Has a Hunch!: Inside the Colorful Mind of Master Inventor Beulah Louise Henry

S. & S./Beach Lane. Oct. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665903639.
Gr 2-4–This is the story of Beulah Louise Henry, a contemporary inventor of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. However, the early 20th century was not accepting of women of scientific interests. This nonfiction picture book gives a general overview of young Henry’s growing curiosity about functional objects, such as clocks and gas stoves. How did they work? Henry had hyperphantasia, a condition in which she was able to conjure highly detailed mental imagery. Not only did she envision the detailed mechanical solutions that led to her inventions, she also saw colorful accompaniment to various forms of music and sound. This rare ability enabled Henry to invent, patent, and in some cases, manufacture and sell over 40 inventions during her lifetime. This selection succinctly recognizes a woman in the STEM field during the early 20th century, in an arena otherwise dominated by male figures. The illustrations depict accurate clothing and settings to the era done in vibrant, almost neon colors to breathe life into such old-fashioned depictions. Color choices emphasize Henry’s “otherness” in her dull surroundings, and especially highlight depictions of her literally seeing music in the air.
VERDICT An excellent introduction to the life of a woman in the sciences during a time when such interests were discouraged.

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