Kids love Band-Aids, right? My kids have all come to me, asking for a fistful of Band-Aids for some nearly invisible wound. I remember covering my own teddy bears with Band-Aids when I played with my doctor kit. Working around books and paper as much as I do, I can tell you that there have been days where I’m walking around with two or three of the suckers on various fingers, especially when I’m doing program prep and put literal blood, sweat, and tears into a project I’m working on for the kids. Whether they’re the original plain, or decorated with Transformers, Band-Aids are a great example of an invention that fills a need and became so much more – so how did this happen?
Recommended for readers 6-10
In the 1920s, a cotton buyer for Johnson & Johnson named Earle Dickson married Josephine, settled in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and started their lives together. But Josephine was a bit accident-prone; she’d cut herself while cooking, bumped and bruised herself going about her daily business, you get the drift. (C’mon, though: who hasn’t grated knuckles, fingernails, and the occasional fingertip on those savage cheese graters?) Poor Josephine was going through dishrags at an astonishing rate, and Earle, being the loving husband he was, started looking for solutions. He took a long piece of adhesive tape and stuck sterile gauze to them every few inches: voila! The Band-Aid prototype was born! The bandages evolved for easier and quicker application and were made easier to apply and reached worldwide usage, going overseas during World War II to the soldiers fighting in Europe, even as kids were testing their limits with scratches and cuts at home. The End. (Really.)
I enjoy a good nonfiction book I can give to younger readers; I’ve had big success with everyday inventions like hot chocolate and earmuffs, thanks to Easy Readers on the topics, and Boo-Boos is a great addition to younger nonfiction collections. Big enough to spotlight the mixed media and Photoshop artwork, all of which is sepia-toned to give a real vintage-y feel to this story. I love the Band-Aid endpapers that bring you in and escort you out of the story, and the sweet love story at the heart of this invention story is just adorable. I love the kid-like narration, which starts and stops with each major moment: “The End. Actually, no, wait…” It’s like listening to my own 5 year-old, or any of my library kiddos, describing a movie, big happening at school, or family event. There’s an author’s note, Earle Dickson time line, a timeline of medical inventions from the 1920s and 1930s, and a list of further resources for anyone who wants to learn more.
The Boo-Boos That Changed the World is good reading, and just good fun. Hand out some Band-Aids (licensed characters, please, we’re not cruel) at a storytime, or raffle off a box of them for a great reader report! There’s a downloadable curriculum guide on the way, and you can listen to a Charlesbridge podcast interview with author Barry Wittenstein right here. The book has a starred review from Kirkus.
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Author Barry Wittenstein has always been involved with writing, from contributing to his high school and college newspapers, to writing and performing poetry on stage in San Francisco, songwriting, sports writing, and now picture books. He has worked at CBS Records, CBS News, and was a web editor and writer for Major League Baseball. He is now an elementary-school substitute teacher and children’s author.
Barry particularly likes nonfiction, and profiling mostly unknown people and events whose stories have never been told in children’s literature. He is the author of Waiting for Pumpsie and The Boo-Boos That Changed the World. He lives in New York City. To learn more, visit his website: https://onedogwoof.com/ or on Twitter: @bwittbooks
Praise for THE BOO-BOOS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
★”Appealingly designed and illustrated, an engaging, fun story about the inspiration and inventor of that essential staple of home first aid.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)