Though she was raised in a time that relegated women to household chores or mindless industrial labor, Margaret E. Knight defied her era. Blessed with a curious mind and a father who didn't hesitate to leave her his toolbox upon his death, Mattie grew up with a pencil in hand, constantly scribbling in a notebook she entitled My Inventions. Mattie's sketches were not mere doodling, but from her earliest years led to useful creations such as a foot warmer for her mother and fanciful toys fashioned for her two brothers. Born to a poor New England family in 1838, Mattie possessed an abounding interest in machines, resourcefulness and a desire to create. At the age of 12, after witnessing a horrible factory accident in which a young girl was injured by a shuttle ricocheting from a loom, Mattie invented a safety device. Amazingly, mill owners accepted Mattie's idea and soon stop action devices were installed on all the looms in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Despite the prevailing attitude of the time that women could not comprehend the complex nature of mechanics and engineering, Mattie continued to invent throughout her life, most notably patenting a paper bag-making machine still employed in bag-making technology today. In Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor Caldecott Medal winner Emily Arnold McCully skillfully leads readers through the details of patents and the harsh working conditions of the Industrial Age. McCully's technical sketches immediately engage the eye and her softly hued period watercolors enhance the young reader's understanding of time and place. An excellent selection for Women's History Month, this book reminds readers that one need not wait until adulthood to pursue a passion. As McCully shows through the life of Margaret Knight, when you follow your dreams, anything is possible.