All Aboard!: Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine

All Aboard!: Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine


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In the second of Tundra's Great Idea Series, biographies for children who are just starting to read, Monica Kulling presents the life of an extraordinary man. There were few opportunities for the son of slaves, but Elijah McCoy's dreams led him to study mechanical engineering in Scotland. He learned everything there was to know about engines - how to design them and how to build them. But when he returned to the United States to look for work at the Michigan Central Railroad, the only job Elijah could get was shoveling coal into a train's firebox. Undaunted, he went on to invent a means of oiling the engine while the train was running, changing the face of travel around the world. With playful text and lively illustrations, All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine may be the first biography a child discovers, and it will whet the appetite for many more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781770495142
Publisher: Tundra
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Series: Tundra Great Idea Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 32
Sales rank: 269,893
Product dimensions: 8.10(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

About the Author

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monica Kulling is a poet who has published many books for children, including picture books, adaptations of classic novels, and biographies. Known for introducing biography to children who are just learning to read, she has written about Harriet Tubman, Houdini, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Amelia Earhart, among others. Her book It's a Snap! George Eastman's First Photograph, illustrated by Bill Slavin, was the first in Tundra's Great Idea Series, followed by All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine and In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up. Monica Kulling is also the author of the hilarious Merci Mister Dash! Visit her website at The author lives in Toronto, Canada.

Bill Slavin has illustrated over eighty books for children, including The Big Book of Canada by Christopher Moore, The Library Book by Maureen Sawa, It's a Snap! George Eastman's First Photograph and All Aboard! Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine by Monica Kulling. Among his many honors, he has won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, the Blue Spruce Award, and the Zena Sutherland Award for Children's Literature. Bill lives near Millbrook. Ontario.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"When I read Monica Kulling's retelling of the life of Elijah McCoy I felt the same sense of wonder and curiosity that I first experienced when I was initially introduced to this enigmatic, inventive, and charismatic figure. Bill Slavin's images are absolutely beautiful. My daughters LOVE it."
Andrew Moodie, author of The Real McCoy

“an engaging biography of the African-American inventor . . . The narrative includes fictionalized dialogue and clear explanations about how the machinery works and concludes with an inspiring message . . .” 
— School Library Journal

Customer Reviews

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All Aboard!: Elijah McCoy's Steam Engine 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason for Reading: Taking my turn before handing it over for a bedtime read to my son, who is very much into inventors right now.Lovely little first biography for picture book age children or older struggling readers who still like their books filled with illustrations. Of course, Elijah's life is told briefly and rapidly but it manages to hit upon all the major events of his life leading up to the invention of his oil cup which revolutionized steam travel. Not only do we get the facts of this young man's life, we also get insight into the era and the treatment of Blacks in the US and child labour in general. Canadian born Elijah, educated in Scotland, returned to his family now living back in the US, first meets up with a white man's disdain and ignorance as he tries to get a job designing train engines and ends up being an ashcat, the person who feeds the coal into the engine. Along with him is a small white boy, his "grease monkey" who keeps all the parts well oiled climbing under and over the engine in a dangerous job. These injustices though are what keep Elijah up at nights trying to figure out a way to fix the steam engine that causes their job to be so dangerous and tiresome, and for train travel to be so slow.The writing is age appropriate and interesting and doesn't talk down to its audience giving a good clear picture of the process an engineer and inventor must go through. Slavin's illustrations are wonderful old-style paintings that fit the text perfectly. The story goes on to end with a small page telling where the phrase "the real McCoy" came from and how Elijah had a life filled with engine inventions and even some inventions that had nothing to do with engines, such as a portable ironing board. Young children will enjoy Elijah's story and older ones may be inspired to finding out more about him.
ibby.stith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The "Great Idea Series" seems to be one that would interest any curious child. From reading "All Aboard!" I have inferred that the books in this series tell the history of some of the most important inventions known to man. This was the most fascinating part of the book. Not often do I consider trains, nor do I find them terribly interesting, but this book presented them in a way that made me feel like I was learning something new and was very interesting. I would love to see more books from this series describing other lesser-known, but still important inventions from the past.As far as the actual story, I felt that the text was rather choppy. Many sentences seemed to end abruptly or did not connect well to preceding sentences. I did enjoy the pictures in the story, but felt that the lack of rhythm to the text would not engage young readers/listeners. However, I do think the idea is fascinating and should be improved by more natural-sounding writing.
NathanaelS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The style is targeting very young kids about kindergarten age. While it could benefit from slightly smoother flow at the beginning, it improves and actually has a very good story. The illustrations, however, are excellent. All told this is well written children's books which I would pay to have on my shelf.
Stretchberry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This picture book is a well told biography of African American inventor Elijah McCoy. The persistence and eventual success of McCoy is inspiring. The explanation of the phrase "real McCoy" made for an interesting ending.
conuly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an acceptable book. Unfortunately, I don't have it to hand for this review, so it'll be a short one.All the necessary details of Elijah McCoy's life were covered - unfortunately, the author saw fit to put in that spurious nonsense about "the real McCoy" - a cute story, but the phrase predates the man, and so could not POSSIBLY have come from his inventions.I did feel it jumped around a bit, especially during his childhood.
ASBiskey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever wonder about the saying "the real McCoy"? This brief biography about Elijah McCoy describes his life and works for children. The illustrations are beautiful. This is a well written, well illustrated book about an interesting subject for children three to seven.