Sunday, November 14, 2010

SLIS 5420 - Module 11 - The Day-Glo Brothers

Module 11 - The Day-Glo Brothers by Chris Barton

Barton, Chris. The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand New Colors. Charlesbridge, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-57091-673-1

Bob and Joe Switzer didn't set out to invent Day-Glo paint, but that's what they did and their invention changed the world in small but significant ways.

What I Thought
Since this book is cataloged in my library as Dewey Decimal number 535, I thought I would be learning only about science when I picked up the book. However, while I did learn a little about florescence and chemicals and how the scientific method worked, I also learned about a great life story of two inventors. While Bob and Joe had originally wanted to different things with their lives, fate steered them in a different direction. They weren't able to do the original jobs they wanted, but both were able to help people and create different and new things.

This book is great for exploring the Switzer's lives. The author, Chris Barton, is a historian and his telling their story helps uncover a small but important part of history. The Day-Glo paint and pigment was used to save lives and changed the way we looked at the world.

The illustrations by Tony Persiani are an excellent accompaniment to this story. As the book starts out, most of the illustrations are gray. But as the Switzers discover and invent Day-Glo paint, the pictures in the story become brighter and more colorful.

Outside Reviews

"In this debut for both collaborators, Barton takes on the dual persona of popular historian and cool science teacher as he chronicles the Switzer brothers' invention of the first fluorescent paint visible in daylight. The aptly named Day-Glo, he explains, started out as a technological novelty act (Joe, an amateur magician, was looking for ways to make his illusions more exciting), but soon became much more: during WWII, one of its many uses was guiding Allied planes to safe landings on aircraft carriers. The story is one of quintessentially American ingenuity, with its beguiling combination of imaginative heroes ("Bob focused on specific goals, while Joe let his freewheeling mind roam every which way when he tried to solve a problem"), formidable obstacles (including, in Bob's case, a traumatic accident), a dash of serendipity and entrepreneurial zeal. Persiani's exuberantly retro 1960s drawings--splashed with Day-Glo, of course--bring to mind the goofy enthusiasm of vintage educational animation and should have readers eagerly following along as the Switzers turn fluorescence into fame and fortune."
(2009). The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors. Publishers Weekly, 256(26), 127. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

"First featured in the Fall Preview, Chris Barton breaks down the story behind the discovery of Day-Glo colors in this tale of two brothers--one practical, one creative--who worked together to develop the neon brights that forever changed the world. The book required extensive research, as Barton delved into one brother's notes and interviews with the family to re-create the story The effort was well worth it. "The final pages explode in Day-Glo radiance," said the Kirkus reviews: "Rendered in 1950s-cartoon style, with bold lines and stretched perspectives, these two putty-limbed brothers shine even more brightly than the paints and dyes they created."

(2009). The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors. Kirkus Reviews, 77(22), 10. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.

Using this book in the library
This book would be a good fit for a classroom environment when it's time to introduce both science concepts and history. This books is fun to read and look at and gently introduces both science and biography in a fun way.

Just for fun
Visit the DayGlo company website. This is the company founded by Bob and Joe Switzer. You can request color samples and find out more information about DayGlo today. Now DayGlo colors are in eye makeup, food coloring and other assorted things. The company is located in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

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