Berta Benz and the Motorwagen
Berta's story is sure to charm, entertain and educate young and old alike. In August of 1888 Berta Benz, a German housewife, and her two teenage sons changed the world. They made the first long-distance drive in a gasoline-powered automobile. They did it without fuel, supplies or the consent of Herr Benz! The trip, though plagued by problems, was a success and showed that motor transportation did indeed have a future.
Praise for Berta Benz
From The Book World
"Bert Benz and the Motorwagen," by Mindy Bingham, is somewhat wacky but at the same time delightfully refreshing. It's the story in comical but true terms of the first motor vehicle. It took place in Germany in 1888 when a German housewife, named Berta Benz and her two sons took her husband, Karl's invention -- a three-wheeled car -- on a trip to her mother's home sixty miles away. For three years Karl had been trying to "sell" his idea and his "car" but no businessman or manufacturer would go for it. "Silly," they all said. "No practical purpose." How's that again, Mr. Cadillac and Mr. Buick and Mr. Ford? Anyway, the car worked. The big thing at first was finding water along the way to cool the engine. It required an injection of water about every 12 miles. The book is for children, really, but many adults will find it quite appealing. It is a large-size charmingly illustrated book, written in an engagingly humorous vein. Guess where the Benz family got a new cable when one broke on the trip? Hmmm. Just read and see.
From The Tustin News
Books with women as courageous role models are not as scarce as they once were but good ones for the very young are still a little hard to come by. "Berta Benz and the Motorwagen" definitely falls into the story-with-a-message market and is beautifully done. The artwork is also beautifully done. Illustrated by ltoko Maeno and written by Mindy Bingham, the cover of the book makes you want to look inside. The inside does not disappoint. A short story relating an adventure of the wile of a well known inventor, Karl Benz, and her role of showing the world that women play an important part in the development of our culture. It is delightfully delivered in a very interesting and somewhat lighthearted manner. Adventure, creativity and common sense are embodied within the books pages.
From Publisher's Weekly
In the summer of 1888 , Karl Benz was perplexed about how to promote his horseless carriage to an amused, skeptical public. Without a word to her husband, Berta Benz decided to take her two sons to visit their grandmother 60 miles away using a Motorwagen for transport. Armed with pluck but little knowledge, the Benzes set off to publicize the vehicle. Word of the expedition spread and, as nighttime approached, a crowd brought lanterns to lead the travelers to the next village. The trip was a great success mostly due to Berta's determination and ingenuity (for example, using her hat pin and garters to mend the Motorwagen). Bingham ably brings the story to life, and Maeno, who illustrated Bingham's previous book Minou , uses her soft, accomplished watercolors to capture the German countryside of a century ago. The book ends with an afterword by the Mercedes historian, W. Robert Nitske, and a commentary about women's roles in society by the Girls Club of America. This is a marvelous debut for a series designed to celebrate women who shaped the modern world and to inspire today's young women to take risks in nontraditional fields of study and work.
From Road and Track magazine
Berta's story is an entertaining slant on the woman behind the man behind the wheel. Illustrations are beautifully crafted. Readers should not be deceived by the pastel presentation -- the story has strength and credibility that would lend itself well to animated film.
From Scientific American magazine
Early one August morning in 1888 Frau Berta Benz and her two teenaged sons pushed Model 3 out of the shed and down the block so as not to waken Father once the flywheel was spun and the noisy little engine started. They were off to Grandmother's house, 60 miles away in the hills beyond Heidelberg. The car they had quietly borrowed was one of Karl Benz's tricycle Motorwagens, then, along with Gustav Daimler's, the only working automobiles in the world. Off in gentle conspiracy they sped at 15 miles an hour -- their overloaded vehicle traveling along a road utterly innocent of engines and hostile to them by local law. The three had little driving experience. Although the motorwagens had been mobile for two years, Karl had never taken one beyond a few prescribed streets and to the Mannheim railroad station, a half mile away from their house. Intrepid, independent Berta -- alone in the Benz household -- realized that the future they foresaw for the little cars would not come until the public imagination was caught; this was her day to break the leash of timid use. The car needed water every hour or so: no radiator. Its fuel was a popular dry-cleaning fluid and could be eked out by stopping at every pharmacy en route to buy a few bottles. Tires were solid: no punctures. By afternoon a shoemaker was cajoled into replacing the leather brake lining that had burnt out down the sleep grades. Later, resourceful Bert replaced a broken spring control cable by the elastic she discreetly removed from her garter belt. They made it! News of their journey had preceded them and a lively torch-light parade came out from town to lead their roofless, lightless, horseless contraption down the final dark mile. The text is lively, the events carefully authenticated and illustrated by page after page of color wash paintings of dazzling detail and evocative power: places, period costumes, a wonderful telegraph counter and plenty of cars past and present. This deliciously tendentious book has a timely moral in mind: Encourage your daughters to get dirty, take things apart, and challenge the question as well the answer. (If you haven't any daughters, tell it to your sons.)
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Brand: Academic Innovations, LLC
Category: Children's Books