STARRED REVIEW
October 03, 2017

Take a joyride. Change the world.

illustrated by Jan Adkins

It’s not an easy task to transport today’s technology-minded children back to 1888, when cars were nonexistent and banned by German law, but author-illustrator Jan Adkins succeeds with aplomb in Bertha Takes a Drive: How the Benz Automobile Changed the World.

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It’s not an easy task to transport today’s technology-minded children back to 1888, when cars were nonexistent and banned by German law, but author-illustrator Jan Adkins succeeds with aplomb in Bertha Takes a Drive: How the Benz Automobile Changed the World.

Adkins’ detailed period drawings set the scene for adventure. When Bertha Benz, wife of inventor Karl Benz, wakes her two boys, she’s on a mission. She plans to sneak the Benz Motorwagen out the garage door and past the German soldiers guarding it. The government and the church oppose the development of the motorcar, but Bertha is determined to take it on a 60-mile spin.

The boys are thrilled to make the trip to Grandmother’s in the marvelous invention. After bouncing swiftly along the rough, rutted roads—built for horses, goats and cattle—they help Mother push the car up a long, steep hill.

Bertha shows her knowledge, inventiveness and spunk in surpassing each hurdle along the way. Her hairpin does a quick fix on the fuel line, and the garter from her stockings works to coat an electric wire. After the car hurtles way too fast down a steep hill, Bertha calmly enlists the help of a cobbler to create the first brake pads.

When the three arrive at Grandmother’s and telegraph Father, word spreads that the motorcar is a success. The German government gets behind the project, and automobiles become the wave of the future. A diagram of the internal combustion engine and a pictorial timeline of the evolution of the automobile augment the story.

 

Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

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Bertha Takes a Drive

Bertha Takes a Drive

illustrated by Jan Adkins
Charlesbridge
ISBN 9781580896962

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