Monday, December 21, 2020

Hidden Heroes #1: Lewis Latimer: Inventors Innovators

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Patrick, Denise Lewis and Duncan, Daniel (illus.) Hidden Heroes #1: Lewis Latimer: Inventors Innovators
January 7th 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

I was so happy to see this biography series! Latimer is the subject of several shorter biographies, and even is mentioned in Abdul-Jabbar's What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors, but to have detailed coverage of his life and times in a biography that's over 100 pages long (for some reason, frequently a requirement for biography projects!) is fantastic. The cover will help appeal to readers who adored the "Who Was" series but want something for somewhat older readers. The second book in this series focuses on Mae Jemison.

Latimer was born in 1848. His parents had been enslaved in Virginia but had made their way to freedom in Boston before Latimer's birth. His father eventually bought his own freedom, but left the family, perhaps fearing that they were in danger of being taken back into slavery. He joined the navy during the Civil War, and took a job at a patent office. He eventually taught himself mechanical drawing and drafting, and eventually was able to do those jobs. A keen observer, he developed several inventions himself. He worked with Alexander Graham Bell, rushing to get his patent application in, and later worked on incandescent lighting with Hiram Maxim as well as Thomas Edison. His knowledge of engineering in so many fields made him a valuable employee, and his willingness to learn new things (like French, when he was sent to Canada to work) helped as well. He died in 1928.

The illustrations in this help bring the era in which Latimer lived to life for readers, especially since there are not many photographs. This was just the right amount of information, and I appreciated that the challenges that Latimer faced due to his race were treated seriously, but his accomplishments were not overshadowed by that. I've always thought that there are many stories of women and people of color that need to be told, and I'm hoping that this series highlights more lesser known but highly accomplished people. 


  1. This sounds like an excellent book! I know way too little about Lewis Latimer, so I'll have to look into this book! Thanks for the great review, and happy holidays!

  2. I have never understood the arbitrary 100-page rule. This will be a welcome book for a lot of young people. It sounds well-written. Thanks for the post.

  3. This sounds fantastic. How great it will be to get in on #1 of a new series, too. And oooooh, I see there's even a Goodreads giveaway for this title right now. Adding it to my list. Thank you!