19. It's a Snap! George Eastman's First Photograph by Monica Kulling

It's a Snap! George Eastman's First Photograph by Monica Kulling. Illustrated by Bill Slavin. (US) - (Canada)
Great Idea Series, 1

Pages: 32
Ages: 6+
Finished: Jan. 17, 2012
First Published: Aug. 11, 2009
Publisher: Tundra Books
Genre: children, picture book, biography, non-fiction, Canadian author
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

George Eastman left school when he was only fourteen.

Acquired: Received a Review Copy from Tundra Books.

Reason for Reading: I love the author's children's biographies, and this was the last book I still had to read in this series, wanting to catch up before a new one came out.

Publisher's Summary: "In 1877 in Rochester, New York, George Eastman couldn’t understand why picture-taking was so difficult. Having left school at fourteen to support his mother and two sisters, George decided to find out by making photography his hobby. He packed up glass plates, a plate holder, a tent, a heavy tripod, a thick piece of black cloth, a water jug, and chemicals and set off to take his first photograph.

George realized that not many people could own a camera — they were too expensive and the size of today’s microwave ovens! But how could he make picture-taking easier? Eventually, George created dry plates, and they were such a success that he opened his own dry-plate company in 1881. But this was only the beginning — George went on to invent film and the Brownie camera. The rest is history.

This is a fun picture book told in a storyteller voice.  There are no dates or dry facts; instead we have here an entertaining story of a man who was frustrated with how difficult (and expensive!) it was to take just one picture.  If he was going to do this as a hobby he really needed to figure out a better way to take pictures, and thus, he starts years of inventing an improvement upon the camera until he eventually comes up with the Kodak instant camera.  The tale is told with humour and George's mother is a great "sidekick".  It is she who first encourages him to take up a hobby, then to do something about it when he is frustrated with the cameras available to him, but later on as his inventing takes over her kitchen and a large part of George's conversation she humorously gets "fed-up" with it all.  Of course, I knew who Eastman was and what he accomplished (and little bit of useless info, I used to work for them.) but this brief children's bio introduced me to the man and what inspired him, information I previously did not know.  Children are going to be fascinated with the history of cameras presented here.  Slavin's illustrations are as usual wonderful.  They are detailed, capture the era, and his character's facial features are comic and lively.  Probably my favourite of the series so far.


  1. This looks fascinating. My kids would enjoy learning about the history of cameras. Thanks!

  2. That sounds like a great book and an interesting series (I love kid bios too). And particularly poignant now as Kodak Eastman is doing particularly badly financially now, killed off by digital technology.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts