Impossible Inventions: Ideas That Shouldn’t Work; Małgorzata Mycielska, illustrated by Alexandra Mizielińska & Daniel Mizieliński
The term STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) may be relatively new but people have been applying STEM principles for hundreds of years and Impossible Inventions is a celebration of just some of the wacky and wonderful inventions that brilliant and imaginative minds have dreamt up.
Whether it be because of the need to solve a problem, a person’s desire to own something that doesn’t yet exist or an impossible dream that may one day be a reality, people have been inventing things, coming up with ideas and scribbling things down on pieces of paper for hundreds of years. Leonardo da Vinci was at it over five hundred years ago. Unfortunately, at the time he was coming up with ideas such as a flying machine, a submarine, a helicopter and a parachute there wasn’t the resources available to create his inventions and even if there was who’s to say that it would have happened. As is pointed out, “Da Vinci’s ideas were far ahead of his time…In those days he was probably considered a madman.”
Impossible Inventions is such a fun non-fiction book that explores twenty-eight inventive ideas. Some are quirky, other are genius, many are just simply bizarre. The book starts by introducing readers to the idea of inventing, why people bother to do it and states that at the heart of inventing are three things, “creativity, passion and dedication.” If you have an idea, you’ll want to protect it from being stolen and for that you’ll need something called a patent - this is explained too.
Now you’re familiar with all of that it is time to be amazed, baffled and have your mind-boggled by twenty-eight inventions from the last two-thousand plus years. Featured inventions include: flying machines including a transport cloud, primitive automatic doors, a cloud maker, time-telling devices, an environmentally friendly exercise machine, music made from ice, a sweet sorter, a 3D space printer and who could live without a concentration helmet, well as it turns out…all of us. There is no order to which the inventions appear. Dates are given but the inventions hop around through time much like an inventor’s ideas hop around their mind - random and in no particular order. Even the contents page appears at the back of the book.
Each invention is presented over a double page spread with brief text, labeled illustrations and diagrams and accompanying captions. There are plenty of interesting cutaways that show the intricacies and workings of the various machines. A second-double page follows that imagines the invention functioning - or at least trying to function - in the real world. This is presented as a cartoon style spread featuring unimpressed onlookers, confused animals and plenty of funny speech bubbles.
Impossible Inventions is fun, fascinating and engaging, and is sure to be a hit with many middle-grade children. And who knows, maybe a future inventor will find themselves reading it and come up with a great idea of their own.
Recommended for 8+.