by Monica Kulling
Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki
Biographies can be so dry. Endless facts, occasional anecdotes, references and, if the person is long dead, few graphics. Ah, but not if it's one of Tundra's Great Idea Series written by Monica Kulling. The author who has given us It's a Snap! George Eastman's First Photograph, All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine, In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up and Going Up! Elisha Otis's Trip to the Top is well versed in transforming biographies into readable narratives.
From his birth in Bologna in 1874, Guglielmo Marconi, the baby with the big ears, was destined to "hear the still, small voices in the air" and become known as the father of wireless communication. Those are the type of details Monica Kulling focuses on, not the details of Marconi's would-be curriculum vitae, typical of many biographies. The reader learns of Marconi's experiences with Morse code and the telegraph machine; his brain spark of using radio waves to send wireless messages; his inventing and experimentation; a personal demonstration for Queen Victoria; and his ultimate achievement with wireless. And Richard Rudnicki's illustrations take the readers to Marconi's time and places, providing the appropriate atmosphere for his story.
By resisting the need for excessive text, the affliction of many biographies for young people, and enhancing that limited text with illustrations, Tundra's Great Ideas Series will continue to garner awards and recognition. With Monica Kulling at the writing helm and astutely concentrating on the anecdotes of pivotal experiences, the stories will continue to be fascinating to young readers.