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*The Day-Glo Brothers* by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani
The Day-Glo Brothers
by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani
Grades 3-6 44 pages Charlesbridge July 2009 Hardcover    

A terrific new picture book biography, The Day-Glo Brothers, is a bridge between curricular areas – art, history, science and English. It is the story of two brothers, Bob and Joe Switzer, who discovered and marketed fluorescent colors that appear to glow even in daylight.

Beginning by taking the reader back to the times when fluorescent colors were simply not available, the book moves to Bob and Joe’s early days when Bob was a hard worker who aspired to become a doctor while Joe was more interested in perfecting his magic tricks.

Both had a talent for problem-solving. When Bob was hurt in an accident, the brothers began to work together to perfect a magic illusion using ultraviolet light and color. They discovered a glowing chemical spill from their father’s pharmacy and began to make glow-in-the dark paints. Their experimentation and work continued as they eventually discovered how to make fluorescent colors which could be seen in daylight and marketed those colors to advertisers and the military.

Persiani’s retro, cartoon-like illustrations punctuated with fluorescent colors make the book fun to read and add a true period feel to the 1930s and ‘40s setting. The concise third-person narrative highlights interesting episodes in Bob and Joe’s lives that reveal their talents and foretell their future problem-solving skills which led to their successful experimentation with fluorescent color.

The companion lesson plan on the publisher’s website, as well as an animation showing normal colors, glow-in-the-dark fluorescent colors and day-glo colors, can be used in combination with this book to ignite higher-level thinking in students, making connections with our world today, history, science and art.

Celebrating ingenuity and invention, the Spitzer brothers’ story can be compared with other pairs of inventors and innovators – the Wright Brothers or Joe Shuster and Jerome Siegel (the men who developed the character of Superman) for a great discussion on how people can do more when they work together. A brief explanation of fluorescence and an author’s note complete the book. Highly recommended.

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  Kristine Wildner/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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