Cyrus Field's Big Dream cover PRAISE FOR CYRUS FIELD'S BIG DREAM
Best STEM Book symbol
 a 2019 Best STEM Book, awarded by the National Science Teachers Association and the Children's Book Council
a Junior Library Guild Selection  Junior Library Guild medallion
Kirkus Reviews: "The relentless persistence of one man resulted in one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and the transformation of international communication. … Making extensive use of primary sources, Cowan admiringly chronicles how… Field endured delays and failed attempts, millions of dollars lost, suspected sabotage, technological problems, and public accusations of fraud and treason. Her well-paced, vivid account makes for a read that is at times gripping. … An inspiring portrait of a man with a dream and his steadfast determination to achieve it." Read the complete review.
Booklist: "Long before email and texting, Cyrus Field understood the value of instant communication. When the paper merchant tycoon learned in 1854 about an opportunity to invest in the first transatlantic telegraph cable, which would reduce message delivery between Europe and North America from weeks to minutes, he couldn’t resist. This detailed biography, filled with archival reproductions, chronicles Field’s rise from a penniless paper mill worker to one of the richest men in New York City. An interesting chapter on his hiatus from his paper company describes an adventure through South America with then budding artist Frederic Church. The bulk of the text focuses on Field’s 12-year endeavor to create a telegraph company, acquire investors, and procure 2,000 miles of cable, and the tension-filled methods of laying it. Cowan relates the scientific and historical events that shaped the process. While the topic seems most applicable to STEM readers, there is much for young entrepreneurs to learn. The project failed multiple times, but Field’s incessant determination finally succeeded with a telegraph from Queen Victoria to President Andrew Johnson." — Angela Leeper
ConnieWooldridge.com: "Cyrus Field didn’t know the first thing about telegraphs when he retired from running a successful paper mill in 1853. But when his “big dream” took hold, there was no stopping him. He made three attempts to lay a cable across the Atlantic (watching borrowed funds disappear and the cheers of crowds turn into taunts) before a fourth succeeded. Through photos, diagrams, and clear explanations, the author describes the complicated business of securing thousands of miles of cable, transferring it onto ships, and reeling it out onto the ocean floor without snapping it. All the while, the ability to transmit a signal – from one end of the cable to the other – had to be maintained. Cowan uses the twisting and straining of the cable to mirror the twists of history and politics, and the almost unbearable strain on Field himself. Added to the rousing good story is the copious back matter (author’s note, timeline, source notes, selected bibliography, and a list of additional books, videos, and websites to consult for further information). This is nonfiction for young adult readers at its best."
School Library Connection: "Field's...diligence and perseverance shine brightly, and these attributes make this story a winner. (His) uncanny ability to continually turn failure around and his constant quest for knowledge teach readers a valuable lesson about not giving up. Hand this book to your kids who have big dreams so they can experience first-hand the endless possibilities of making those dreams come true."
VOYA: “Cowan offers a detailed look at the great fortitude of an American pioneer who had an audacious vision. Field’s story is filled with examples of the kind of determination that is always beneficial for teens to experience in nonfiction…(and) provides insight about events that many teens do not know about, making this a good addition for library collections serving young adults.”
The Fairview Review: "anyone reading this book will be convinced of [Cyrus's] determination to accomplish his goal. ... Written for grades 5-9, this is a detailed biography and a story of technology woven together to make a fascinating true story." posted by Susanne Costner. Read the complete review
Stacked Books: "Mary Morton Cowan brilliantly captures Cyrus’s life and his steadfast determination to achieve his dream."
A Book and a Hug: In this nonfiction middle-grade title, award-winning author Mary Morton Cowan explores the extraordinary achievement of Cyrus Field and one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century: laying a transatlantic telegraph cable to create instant communication between two continents.
Oregon Coast Youth Book Preview Center: Almost one and a half centuries before the world-wide popularity of the internet, messages from one continent to another had to be relayed by ship, a time-consuming process. In the middle of the 19th century, a wealthy New Yorker met a visionary Englishman who convinced the businessman to invest in his dream of a telegraph cable laid on the ocean floor. Part of the book describes Field’s childhood and incessant drive during his adulthood; the remainder details continuing failures of the project as workers and leaders of the attempt made one mistake after another until success after ten years. Blue-tinged sepia diagrams, paintings, and vintage photographs add to the information presenting in an inviting layout. ... The illustrations and accessible writing make the book an inviting read.
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