Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge / by Monica Kulling; illustrated by Bill Slavin. (Great Ideas series) 1.31.2017

Tundra Books ISBN 9781770495227

PRI K-Grade 4 Rating: 4

In 1884, Nikola Tesla leaves his native Croatia for New York, bringing a new concept about electricity. Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge is a picture book telling of Tesla’s early ideas, which advanced the use of electric lighting and hydroelectric power in America.

Author Monica Kulling focuses on the bright immigrant’s enthusiasm and innovation, and his model of electricity (alternating current) that challenged Edison’s design (direct current). Her book introduces young readers to Tesla, his competitive relationship with Edison, his role in electrifying the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and his dream of “harnessing” the power of Niagara Falls.

Handsome digitally-colored pen-and-ink sketches by Bill Slavin complement the tone, time period, and setting, with muted greys and browns evoking the grittiness of early industrial America.

Zap! Nikola Tesla Takes Charge is an interesting biographical sketch, well-suited for both school and home libraries. The author provides a list of book and internet sources. “Electric Cat,” a short poem about young Niko’s fascination with static electricity, and “Tesla’s Robot,” an account of Nikola’s later invention of a radio-controlled toy boat, add additional information and insight.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ