Just Like Rube Goldberg

Who doesn’t love to tinker? It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and here’s an inventive biography to check out. 

just-like-rube-goldberg-9781481476683_hrTitle: Just Like Rube Goldberg, The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines

Written by: Sarah Aronson

Illustrated by: Robert Neubecker

Suitable for ages: 3-8

Themes/topics: STEM/STEAM, perseverance, creativity

Question: How do you become a successful, award-winning artist and famous inventor without ever inventing anything at all? (This is not a trick question.)

A man named Rube Goldberg did it! In a funny way, his life was just like one of his famous inventions: an improbable and inefficient chain reaction that ends up making perfect sense.

Overview: (from barnesandnoble.com)
Want to become an award-winning cartoonist and inventor? Follow your dreams, just like Rube Goldberg! From a young age, Rube Goldberg had a talent for art. But his father, a German immigrant, wanted Rube to have a secure job. So, Rube went to college and became an engineer.

But Rube didn’t want to spend his life mapping sewer pipes. He wanted to follow his passion, so Rube got a low-level job at a newspaper, and from there, he worked his way up, creating cartoons that made people laugh and tickled the imagination. He became known for his fantastic Rube Goldberg machines—complicated contraptions with many parts that performed a simple task in an elaborate and farfetched way. Eventually, his cartoons earned him a Pulitzer Prize and his own adjective in the dictionary. This moving biography is sure to encourage young artists and inventors to pursue their passions.

Activities and Resources:
• CAUSE/EFFECT: Using an illustration of one of Goldberg’s crazy machines, make a cause/effect chain using slips of paper linked together. Then use the text to create a cause/effect chain for events in Goldberg’s life.
• CHARACTER: Make a character map for Rube Goldberg. Identify traits, provide textual evidence. Then choose one trait and write about how this helped him through his life.
• GET CREATIVE: Design your own machine to do one of your daily tasks.

Why I like this book:
There’s tons of joy in this story with lively text and spunky, engaging illustrations. Rube Goldberg managed to combine his love of comics with his engineering education. I love how Aronson found a unique path through Goldberg’s life (see opening) with the parallel between his machines and his life. To me, that’s what makes a biography interesting and more than the usual story of a life. What a great book to indulge the imagination, spark curiosity, and inspire creativity! And such a great example for kids on following your dreams and enjoying the journey!


Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.

Visit the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge on Kid Lit Frenzy on Wednesdays for more great nonfiction books for kids!  

9 thoughts on “Just Like Rube Goldberg

  1. Oh wow what an amazing book. I had to google it to find out when it was published. Oh my is that what my brain looks like inside…lol. I’ve got to get my local library to get this one in. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always loved rube Goldberg machines (and always pictures building them with my future kid/kids, I have one of those now–a kid I mean😉, so this would be a great way to leave into those activities). Thanks so much for sharing! Especially what you like about it because that’s what I think I’ll like the most too

    Liked by 1 person

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