Sunday, March 15, 2020



ABOUT THE BOOK {from Goodreads}:

Have you ever wondered what makes a kite fly or a boat float? Have you ever thought about why snowflakes are symmetrical, or why golf balls have dimples? Have you ever tried to make a kaleidoscope or build a pair of stilts?

In Calling All Minds, Temple Grandin explores the ideas behind all of those questions and more. She delves into the science behind inventions, the steps various people took to create and improve upon ideas as they evolved, and the ways in which young inventors can continue to think about and understand what it means to tinker, to fiddle, and to innovate. And laced throughout it all, Temple gives us glimpses into her own childhood tinkering, building, and inventing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR {from Goodreads}:

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., didn't talk until she was three and a half years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping, and humming. In 1950, she was diagnosed with autism and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. She tells her story of "groping her way from the far side of darkness" in her book Emergence: Labeled Autistic, a book which stunned the world because, until its publication, most professionals and parents assumed that an autism diagnosis was virtually a death sentence to achievement or productivity in life.

Even though she was considered "weird" in her young school years, she eventually found a mentor, who recognized her interests and abilities. Dr. Grandin later developed her talents into a successful career as a livestock-handling equipment designer, one of very few in the world. She has now designed the facilities in which half the cattle are handled in the United States, consulting for firms such as Burger King, McDonald's, Swift, and others.

Dr. Grandin presently works as a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. She also speaks around the world on both autism and cattle handling.

(Excerpted from Temple Grandin's Official Autism Website)


Although this book was originally published in 2018, I recently discovered it when I was browsing on the non-fiction 'New Arrivals' shelf in the middle-grade section of the local public library. Since I had read about Temple Grandin for the first time a couple of months ago, I decided to give this book a try.

I have been known to tear up or shed a few tears while reading a book, seeing a movie or TV show, or hearing a song that touches me and moves me in some way. I disclose this because I was extremely moved by the author's Introduction to this book.

As an elementary school educator for over twenty years, I worked with many students on the autism spectrum who were either full-time members of my class or who were mainstreamed into my classroom for a period of time each week. Reading the author's poignant retelling of her childhood and her journey up through adulthood living on the autism spectrum reminded me of so many of the young people I worked with over the years.

Viewing autism again through Temple Grandin's eyes truly was an epiphany for me as a human being!

"Autism is not 'one size fits all.' The more we learn about 'the spectrum' . . . , the more we will understand different kinds of minds and how important different kinds of thinkers are--especially where creativity, innovation, and invention are concerned." Temple Grandin, page 3

Grandin also shares important facts about many other inventors from the past -- Mathematician Grace Murray Hopper, Thomas Alva Edison, and Elias Howe are just a few of the inventors the author references in this book. In fact, the book is probably three-quarters inventor bios and one-quarter projects.

Now, on to the projects in the book. There are five chapters of projects for kids to replicate. Things Made of Paper, Levers and Pulleys, Things Made of Wood, Things That Fly, and Optical Illusions. All historical photos, diagrams, and drawings in the book are black and white. Many diagrams submitted with patents of the past are included in this book.

The projects in the book are fairly simple and use common materials. There is a safety warning at the front of the book about using sharp or dangerous tools under adult supervision. I felt that many of these projects would be 'fun' activities for small groups of children to work on together in the classroom, in a youth group, in a club, or in Scouts. 

The Handmade Paper, Kaleidoscope, Jumping Jack, Puppet Theater & Curtain, Marionette, Kite, Stereoscope, and Solar System Diorama projects caught my eye because they are things I would have been interested in making as a middle-grade learner. The Epilogue about Grandin's Squeeze Machine was interesting.

Recommended for upper middle-grade students interested in S.T.E.A.M. subjects and for educators, librarians, and science club leaders. 


Hello ~ I'm working on my second book in my Tyler Stop middle-grade series, and I was wondering if you would help me out . . .

Did you ever ride on the Skunk Train in Mendocino County in Northern California when you were a kid or teen in the 1960s or 1970s? If yes, I would love to hear about your memories of the train, the ride, the scenery, and anything else interesting you can remember about the ride. 
Please send me an email at: junemccraryjacobs [at] gmail [dot] com  -or-  submit a comment on this blog post. {Note:  I moderate all comments, so they are sent directly to my email inbox. I will not post your comment, but I will use the info you share for my research only.}
 Your name and email address will remain confidential.
 ***If you respond, you will be entered into a giveaway for an ebook copy of one of my fiction books or sewing patterns of your choice!***
Thank you for your assistance, and I hope to receive your 'memories' soon!



Find the links to read more great Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts from middle-grade authors and bloggers at Greg Pattridge's 'Always in the Middle' Blog.

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  1. Sounds like a great book on a number of levels: sharing about autism and cool projects. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. I've heard the author speak at local events and she is amazing. Thanks for featuring her book on MMGM. It's a nice diversion to all the events going on in the world right now. Sorry, I'm no help with your skunk train request. Best of luck in finding some answers.

  3. Have not see this book by Grandin -- belongs in school libraries. What a fun and inspiring book for youth who like to tinker and build things. We have a grandson like that -- takes after his great grandpa.

    No I have never heard of the Skunk Train -- sounds fun.

  4. What a neat-sounding book with such a touching backstory! I love how the author overcame so much both to share her own story and to write about what she loves to inspire a new generation of inventors. Thanks for the great review!

  5. I know some people who are going to really want to read this book. Thanks for telling me about it. I'll pass along the info.