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The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald Review by Brittney Rutherford

Clifford B. Hicks
Purple House Inc.
PO Box 787
Cynthiana, KY 41031

As a homeschooling parent and book lover, books play a huge role in our house. I am always looking for well written books full of living ideas. Specifically, when I look for books for my kids to read independently, I want books that are well-written and engaging, so the kids want to keep reading.

The Marvelous Inventions of Alvin Fernald, written by Clifford B. Hicks, was first published in 1960. It was recently reprinted by Purple House Press, as their mission is to bring back wholesome children’s books. This means Alvin is being introduced to a new generation of readers. The illustrations, by Charles Geer, are classic black and white drawings with a charming vintage feel.

I offered this book to my nine-year-old for his daily independent reading. He was a little unsure about the book at first, but he willingly read it every day, and finished it quickly. After he narrated the entire book to me, he said he really liked it!

He told me all about how Alvin is an inventor. Alvin, his sister the Pest, and his best friend Shoie believe there is a mystery surrounding the haunted Huntley house. In his quest to solve the mystery, Alvin continues inventing things and coming up with plans to figure out who the strange men are, and if his neighbor is in danger. The inventions have fun names like Silent Waker Upper and The SupersecretEvesdropper. For kids who like tinkering and imagining themselves as inventors, this book is likely to inspire creativity. The book clearly describes how Alvin creates his inventions, which may be because some were based off inventions that the author himself tried to make as a kid.

My son did say the book mentioned reincarnation, so some families may want to address this as they see fit. Otherwise, he said he really liked the book, so I would consider letting him read more books in the Alvin Fernald series, or other titles by Clifford Hicks, after I do a skim through.

While this book could be used as a read aloud, it has some font changes, for “handwritten” notes and lists, which I think makes it more interesting when reading independently. I would recommend the book for 8-12 year-olds, and while the main character is a boy, it has a fun factor that would make it appealing to girls too.

-Product review by Brittney Rutherford, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2018