Just like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines

By Sarah Aronson
Junior Nonfiction

How did I never hear of Rube Goldberg until now? He is a genius! In an unusual way. An inventor who never actually made any of his inventions, an engineer who never engineered one of his designs—and yet he was wildly successful! How? Well, in the fun and fascinating picture book biography Just Like Rube Goldberg, it explains that inventing doesn’t always require gears and springs. The kind of inventing Goldberg did involved the brain, the imagination, and a good sense of humor.

As the book describes, Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist who created all kinds of bizarre machines that relied on impossible domino effects to do ordinary tasks. Take his alarm clock invention for example. The first step in this machine is to have a bird come to your window and pull on a worm that is attached to a string. The string is connected to a pistol which fires. The bullet from the pistol then pops a balloon, thereby releasing a brick tied to the balloon string. Through a series of other steps (one involves a cannon ball), the sleeper is finally awoken with ice water to the face. Ta-da! The perfect alarm clock!

Maybe you get the picture now. Rube Goldberg’s machines were never meant to work. His inventions were never intended to sell in stores across the world. He invented ridiculous machines in order to make people laugh. And if you read this book, you will laugh! It features many of his original cartoons as well as interesting facts about his life in an easy-to-read format with lots of fun pictures.

This is an AMAZING book if you want a good, small taste of who Rube Goldberg was while seeing some of his wacky inventions. It’s perfect for both adults and children—and readers like me who like to learn about people in history but only in small chunks. It was written extraordinarily well and was creative and funny—just like Rube Goldberg himself! I think he’d be proud of this little book.

Book Review by Elizabeth Dodds, Children’s Assistant Librarian, Circulation Assistant