Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Invention Hunters! Read All About This New Series & Catch An Interview With The Author & Illustrator, Korwin Briggs!

I love books about making of all kind!  It is so much fun to watch books spark creativity and innovation within a child.  I make sure to connect picture, chapter and nonfiction books about making into our lessons, projects and curriculum at our school all the time.

They truly do make a difference and are a wonderful connection and way to excite and inspire all makers!

Well, today I have two new ones to share and two that I can't wait to share them with my students and teachers at Van Meter in the fall too.

This new series of two is called The Invention Hunters by...
...the amazing author and illustrator, Korwin Briggs
As the Little Brown Book Group shared on its site about each book,

The Invention Hunters travel the globe in their flying museum collecting the world’s greatest inventions! Today they’ve landed in a construction zone. These silly scientists think they’ve stumbled on incredible specimens of everything you’d never find at a building site, from roller skates and pogo sticks to swords and race cars. But what they really discover–with a kid as their guide–is how simple machines like pulleys, cranks, and levers are used to engineer tools ranging from jackhammers to dump trucks…and even toilets!

Using simple explanations and diagrams and a heaping helping of humor, the Invention Hunters make the perfect companions for curious kids who are ready to learn about science, physics, engineering, history, and more.
The Invention Hunters travel the globe in their flying museum collecting the world’s greatest inventions! This time, they’ve landed in a kid’s backyard, and these silly scientists think they’ve stumbled on incredible specimens, from umbrellas and lipsticks to coins and rockets. But what they really discover–with a kid as their guide–is how electricity and magnetism powers lamps, batteries, and even toasters!

Using simple explanations and diagrams and a heaping helping of humor, the Invention Hunters make the perfect companions for curious kids who are ready to learn about science, physics, engineering, history, and more.  You will find this one here on the site

I just love how Korwin has shared these stories and scientific concepts in such creative and engaging ways, tying in special illustrations with lovable and curious characters along the way. 

This fall we are going to have a Skype in the Classroom with Korwin, but this summer I really wanted to learn more about him and his terrific new books.  I asked him a few questions online and this is what he shared with me.  I know you will enjoy learning more as well. 

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself

Hi! I’m Korwin. I make books and comics about nonfiction stuff like science and history, including two that just came out: The Invention Hunters Discover How Machines Work, and The Invention Hunters Discover How Electricity Works. (And I don’t know if this is the right place to say it, but: thanks for interviewing me!)

2. What inspired you to write The Invention Hunters series?  Are they based on children or people that you know?  Was that you as a child?  Or still? :) 

Most of my original notes were lost in a move (specifically, a notebook I misplaced somewhere between Brooklyn and Queens), but if I remember right, the initial idea was less about STEM and more about dumb explorers. I’d been reading a lot about early modern voyages of discovery, and started doodling pictures of explorers “discovering” things that had already been discovered, while missing really impressive stuff right next to them — like, Indiana Jones getting so excited about a vacuum cleaner that he runs right past the Arc of the Covenant.

From there, it was doodling and showing people, and re-doodling and showing more people, until it stumbled and lurched into its current form.

That’s the nitty-gritty of it. As for the red-haired kid…well, I don’t know if he’s actually me, but he sure looks like it, and I think I share his sense that adults have no idea what they’re doing (although in his case it’s absolutely true).

3. I love the description The Magic School Bus meets The Way Things Work....I know that these were two of my favorites when I was younger, what about you?

I adored both of those! Especially The Way Things Work. I kept that one next to my bed for years. It’s been a while, but I’ll bet I could still draw a few of those diagrams from memory. But I was a nonfiction kid in general, all about machines and history and dinosaurs and space. My favorite book in second grade was a kids’ encyclopedia.

4. What do you hope to achieve with your books?  Who do you hope to reach?  How do you see these being used with children in the library and classrooms? 

I hope kids get psyched about engineering! I’m no engineer, but I’m fascinated by it, and honestly, I don’t think it’s even about the specific facts or diagrams. It’s more of a mindset thing — like, if you realize that every machine, device, gizmo, and doohickey in your life was invented by someone, using basic rules of the natural world, and that if you can understand how they work, you can invent things, too!

5. And your illustrations are amazing!  Can you tell me how you got started with this part of your career?  And the work you do with did you develop this passion?  

Thanks! I always loved drawing (a little too much for some of my teachers) but I also loved math, science, and history, and initially went to college intending to major in computer science. But within a few months I could tell that wasn’t a great fit, and applied to transfer to art school, and it’s been illustration ever since.

As for the infographics, I think the blame lies partly with me, for being the sort of nerd who reads encyclopedias for fun, and partly with The Way Things Work, and its author, David Macaulay. I was lucky enough to get a seat in a class he teaches every few years at RISD, which meant I got to listen to a master explainer explain how to explain, twice a week, for a whole semester, and I’ve been in love with it ever since. A few years later, I found myself unemployed and started a webcomic with infographics and comics about history and mythology to the internet, and the rest kind of flowed from there.

6. What do you have in store for the Invention Hunters?

Well, two books just came out, and two more are on schedule for next year: The Invention Hunters Discover How Light Works, and The Invention Hunters Discover How Sound Works. After that, who knows? I’d love to see them discover flight and rocketry, computer science, chemistry….I mean, best-best-best case scenario, if everything went astoundingly, improbably right, they could go the Magic Schoolbus route and keep bumbling through all sorts of books and media, but that’s pie-in-the-sky stuff. For now, my job is to cross my fingers and hope that people like The Invention Hunters enough that I get to make more!

7. What is your biggest dream for the future?  

Honestly? I think I might already living it. I mean, right now my job is learning about stuff that fascinates me, and then breaking it down, adding some jokes, and explaining it to kids. It’s a dream come true. As far as future projects, I’d like to make more Invention Hunters, and I’ve been messing around with some maps, and a giant illustrated world history timeline (or as much of it as I can fit in a chart).

Oh! And a dog. I’d really like a dog.

8. What advice would you give my students today? 

I think I have two answers here - one more practical, one more hippy-dippy philosophical.

First, when I visit schools, a lot of kids ask me how to get good at drawing, and the answer is boring, but true: draw! And then keep drawing. People talk about art like it’s some hallowed, unknowable gift, granted from on-high to some lucky few, but it’s just a skill. The one thing all good drawers have in common is that they started drawing, and then, as they got older, they kept drawing.

Secondly….I think, when you’re little, it’s easy to be curious, to get fascinated with what and how and why everything is. But then you get older, and classmates declare your interests uncool, and adults tell you to be more practical, and life gets more complicated, and if you’re not careful, little by little, the joy of learning gets buried under piles of boring adulthood. 
But I’m an adult, and I can tell you from experience that the most interesting, wonderful, successful adults I know are the ones who managed to keep that curiosity alive. I’m not saying don’t ever be cool or practical — just, if you think something’s neat, keep reading, keep learning, keep trying things, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Wasn't that awesome!  It was so much fun learning all about the Invention Hunters and Korwin in that interview.  

To learn more about Korwin, will find his amazing and fun site here.  

You can also visit his page on Little Brown to learn more about him and even learn more about publishing books here

Thank you everyone for stopping by to learn more about The Invention Hunters.  And thank you Korwin for taking the time out of your schedule to visit with us.  We are very honored. 

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