Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors

Ford, A.G. (Illustrator)
Boos, Ben (Illustrator)
Candlewick Press 2012. 36 pages
First published: 2012
ISBN: 9780763645649 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Non-Fiction

Text Elements:

character, dialogue, structures and features

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This dovetailing of fiction and non-fiction focuses on twin siblings, Ella and Herbie, who have just moved into a house needing repair. When a handyman, Mr. Mital, arrives to get the place in order, he regales the children with stories of the contributions that African American men and women have made to science, medicine and technology—everything from “the mailbox outside to the ice-cream scoop … to the Super Soaker squirt gun.”

The fictional, contemporary part of the story is written in chapter form with lively dialogue, while the inventors’ profiles are integrated into the story. Fold-over flaps feature fast facts and a concise biography in kid-friendly prose.

Luminous illustrations show Mr. Mital repairing the house and sharing his knowledge while the children take notes. The colourful, informative flaps reveal an oval portrait of the inventor, birth and death dates and some highlights. Readers must lift the flap to read the rest of the text, designed to look like a printed page of loose-leaf.

The authors’ endnotes explain their commitment to celebrating the unsung but vital contributions of American inventors, often omitted from history textbooks. An excellent resource on inventors/inventions or African Americans, the inside back cover includes print, video and online sources for more information.

  •  

    Make history come alive by imagining you are one of the inventors. Dress up as that person and prepare a presentation that includes his or her invention(s), achievements and interesting facts or stories.

  •  

    The authors’ note mentions his “passion for introducing kids to overlooked inventors.” Write about your own passion and describe achievements or awards you would like to see in your future.

  •  If you could invent something that could enhance or change the way we live, what would it be? Create a poster advertising your invention.
  •  

    Discuss Sir Isaac Newton’s quote, “If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Who is the symbolic giant in your world? Write a letter to that person acknowledging their accomplishments and thanking them for inspiring you.

  •  

    Brainstorm a list of inventors and inventions. Add to it after reading. 

  •  

    Discuss what Mr. Mital means by “inventing is like standing in a bucket brigade.” What is strange about Mr. Mital? Give examples from the story. What do you think of the ending?

  •  

    Discuss the prejudice behind this statement: “You’re too young, you’re too foreign, you’re too black, you’re too female. And we all pay for it.”

  •  

    Make a timeline of the featured inventors and their inventions.

  •  

    Research a selected invention. Share this information with the class.

  •  

    Write a thank-you note to one of the inventors, explaining why you like his or her invention. Use the book’s biographies and “Sources & Further Information” to help you.

  •  Which inventions had the biggest impact on modern life? Make a list and debate which ones are most important.
  •  Select one of the featured inventors and create a poster to share your learning.
  •  Design and write about an invention of the future. Create a class compilation using the features and page layout (flaps) from the book.
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Geography, History and Citizenship
  • Science and Technology