Richie’s Picks: JUST LIKE RUBE GOLDBERG: THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF THE MAN BEHIND THE MACHINES by Sarah Aronson and Robert Neubecker, ill., Beach Lane, March 2019, 48p., ISBN: 978-1-4814-7668-3
“But maybe more than anything else, everyone loved reading about Rube’s alter ego, Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts.
The eccentric professor invented one intricate machine after another, and none of them were straightforward. In fact, they were the opposite of straightforward and often disregarded the laws of physics.
Although this was the age when new machines were being invented to make life easier, Rube’s screwball contraptions purposefully solved problems in the most surreal and ridiculous ways.”
“Cause if your mind don’t move and your knees don’t bend
Well don’t go blamin’ the kids again”
-- from OK GO, “This Too Shall Pass” (2010)
“A creative collective of engineers, architects, roboticists, and NASA research scientists known as Syyn Labs are the minds behind OK Go's famed 2010 ‘This Too Shall Pass’ video, which features an intricate Rube Goldberg contraption synchronized seamlessly with the song's beats and lyrics. According to Syyn Labs' president, Adam Sadowsky, the entire setup featured more working parts than a car engine, including a soccer ball that triggered a falling piano and a rolling tire that turned on a fan, which then blew an umbrella ... (you get the idea). While the 4-minute video was shot in single takes over two floors in an L.A. warehouse, and the contraption ran all the way through three times, there's one slight edit around the 2:20 mark for the sake of consistency. The entire video took about 60 takes to make. It has more than 40 million views on YouTube.”
-- from Popular Mechanics, “7 Unbelievable Rube Goldberg Machines We Love”
My first years as a young reader coincided with the last years in the successful career of cartoonist Rube Goldberg, the cartoon artist who drew crazy machines. I vividly recall poring over his cartoons as a kid. Several months ago, in reviewing A DROP OF HOPE, I even made a reference to Rube Goldberg machinery. So I was excited to find Sara Aronson’s lively new picturebook biography, JUST LIKE RUBE GOLDBERG.
The book begins and concludes with multiple examples of Rube Goldberg’s cartoons. The titles of the contraptions depicted frequently provide readers a sense of the era in which Goldberg lived. Some examples are “Only Successful Way Of Hailing A Street Car;” “The Only Sanitary Way to Lick a Postage Stamp;” and “Easy Way To Keep The Milk From Being Stolen Off The Front Step.”
It’s fun to read about the life of someone so quirky, who ignores well-worn paths and just heads off in an entirely new direction. Sara Aronson shows how Goldberg began emulating cartoonists at the early age of four and then spent decades listening to his parent’s advice, and doing what he had to do to survive financially, while steadily practicing his art and pursuing his real dream of being a professional cartoonist. He eventually succeeded and, by time he was done drawing, he had created over 50,000 cartoons! It shows how it’s possible to find a balance between dreams and practicality. and, maybe, with patience, practice, and ingenuity, succeed at your passion..
There’s a trove of lively action in Robert Neubecker’s illustrations of the life and times of Rube Goldberg. They do a great job of complementing the Goldberg cartoons.
The cartoons themselves are good, old-fashioned fun. I just hope no one gets hurt when imaginative and inspired young readers start coming up with wild ideas and plans for their own Rube Goldberg machinery!
48 pages 978-1-4814-7668-3
Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, California USA
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Discover how Rube Goldberg followed his dreams to become an award-winning cartoonist, inventor, and even an adjective in the dictionary in this inspiring and funny biographical picture book.
Want to become an award-winning cartoonist and inventor? Follow your dreams, just like Rube Goldberg! From a young age, Rube Goldberg had a talent for art. But his father, a German immigrant, wanted Rube to have a secure job. So, Rube went to college and became an engineer.
But Rube didn’t want to spend his life mapping sewer pipes. He wanted to follow his passion, so Rube got a low-level job at a newspaper, and from there, he worked his way up, creating cartoons that made people laugh and tickled the imagination. He became known for his fantastic Rube Goldberg machines—complicated contraptions with many parts that performed a simple task in an elaborate and farfetched way. Eventually, his cartoons earned him a Pulitzer Prize and his own adjective in the dictionary. This moving biography is sure to encourage young artists and inventors to pursue their passions.--from the publisher