The Invention of Bubble Gum

Illustrated by Meghan McCarthy
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About The Book

Gum. It’s been around for centuries—from the ancient Greeks to the American Indians, everyone’s chewed it. But the best kind of gum—bubble gum!—wasn’t invented until 1928, when an enterprising young accountant at Fleer Gum and Candy used his spare time to experiment with different recipes. Bubble-blowing kids everywhere will be delighted with Megan McCarthy’s entertaining pictures and engaging fun facts as they learn the history behind the pink perfection of Dubble Bubble.

About The Author

Photo courtesy of the author

Meghan McCarthy is the award-winning author and illustrator of many books for children, including Earmuffs for Everyone: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs; Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton; Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum; City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male; Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse; and All That Trash. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at Meghan-McCarthy.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (May 2010)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416979708
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® AD740

Raves and Reviews

"A sweetly told, worthy tale—the world needs more heroes like Walter." - KIRKUS

HORN BOOK Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy; illus. by the author Primary Wiseman/Simon 40 pp. 5/10 978-1-4169-7970-8 $15.99 Although chewing gum dates back over nine thousand years, it wasn't until 1928 that mild-mannered accountant by day and inventor by night Walter Diemer introduced bubble gum to the American public. And the rest is history, with over forty million pieces of bubble gum now sold daily. McCarthy's light-as-air biography covers a popular topic and a likable ("I've done something with my life...I've made kids happy around the world") hero whose success comes through hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity. McCarthy's signature round-faced characters, with spherical insectlike eyes, suggest a number of gumballs playfully rolling across each page. Initial dark backgrounds reflect the dismal state of the pre-bubble-gum factory, while bright colors signal the perfected product as business booms. An author's note about the inventor extends the slight text; interesting facts about chewing gum continue the good-humored theme; a bibliography completes the back matter. BETTY CARTER

– Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

"What a good idea for a book! Kids who enjoy blowing gum bubbles may never have considered how the treat came to be, but here, in easy language and with amusing illustrations, McCarthy changes that." --BOOKLIST

– Pop!

This picture-book biography of the inventor of bubblegum is equal parts informative and entertaining. With appropriately simple but engaging prose, McCarthy relates how accountant Walter Diemer began “playing with different mixtures” in the late 1920s at the candy factory where he worked and eventually discovered a gum that bubbled. Judicious use of the inventor’s own words helps to convey his enthusiastic personality. Along with Diemer’s story, the author also covers a bit of gum history, the trial-and-error of invention, and the excitement that comes with a successful final product, all with just the right level of detail. Appealing acrylic cartoon illustrations fill this snippet of history with a sense of fun. The prominent curves of smiling faces and circular eyes and heads stand out against heavy lines and angles to fill each scene with playfulness that matches the subject. Rich colors capture the lighthearted joy of bubble blowers, both old and young, while contrasting darker tones reflect the drama of the inventor’s lab work. A closing spread offers further information about Diemer’s life, more fun facts about gum, and a full list of sources. Although the man will be unfamiliar to young readers, they know his invention well, and will appreciate his unexpected but well-earned success. McCarthy’s on-target presentation makes this a strong choice for elementary biography assignments, booktalking, or just plain nonfiction fun. -- SLJ, May 2010, *STAR

– Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

Walter Diemer, an accountant with the Fleer chewing gum company, slowly begins experimenting with ingredients, trying to create bubblegum. One batch is a near miss—his co-workers happily blow bubbles, but “the next day the mixture was as hard as a rock.” But with time, “top secret ingredients,” and the now classic pink coloring, he finally nails it: at a mom-and-pop store, kids blow bubbles for the first time. McCarthy’s thickly painted acrylic cartoons create an expressive 1920s backdrop with bug-eyed characters dressed in the era’s fashions. A closing section supplies numerous facts about gum. Unlike its subject matter, this history lesson is easily digestible. - PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, May 3, 2010

– Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

"Picture books make the perfect introduction to some subjects. "Pop!" will tell young readers all they need to know about the reinvention of one of history's most popular treats, and the witty drawings tell the rest." --New York Times, August 15th 2010.

– Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

Awards and Honors

  • School Library Journal Best Books of the Year
  • Young Hoosier Book Award Master List (IN)
  • Capitol Choices List (DC)
  • Land of Enchantment Children's Master List (NM)
  • WA Children's Choice Picture Book Award Master List
  • Black Eyed Susan Book Award Master List (MD)
  • Rhode Island Children's Book Award Master List
  • Monarch Award Master List (IL)
  • Gate City Book Award Master List (NH)
  • Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award
  • Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award Honor Book
  • Utah Beehive Book Award Winner

Resources and Downloads

Common Core Suggestion

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Meghan McCarthy