The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan

By School Library Journal

The son of freed slaves, Garrett Morgan grew up on a sharecropper’s farm, an environment in which necessity inspired ingenuity, due to the lack of funds and the constant need for better working tools and equipment. At 14, after a childhood spent creating and fixing, Morgan left the segregated South in search of greater opportunities. By 1901, he had developed and sold the rights to his first invention, a sewing machine belt tightener. After a horrific fire in his adopted hometown of Cleveland, Morgan created the Safety Hood, a heat-resistant canvas helmet with two long tubes attached to help rescuers breathe safely and avoid toxic fumes. Despite a racist public’s reluctance to accept a black man’s invention, the Safety Hood was widely adopted and was adapted to create gas masks for use in World War I. Morgan spent the rest of his life innovating, creating, and living by his motto: “If a man puts something to block your way, the first time you go around it, the second time you go over it, and the third time you go through it.” VERDICT Young readers will relate to this straightforward message of perseverance and encouragement and will warm to Glenn’s attractive sepia-tinted pencil and watercolor illustrations.