Cover Reveal! Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine

I was a kid blessed with a father who had a workshop—a section of the basement with work benches, tools, hardware, and LOTS of scraps! I could go down there to create, experiment, and “invent” (crude versions of things that had already been invented). I distinctly remember a stirring device I built with a crank that turned a small scoop around. It didn’t matter that it really wouldn’t have accomplished much except make a mess. The joy was in creating my own little hand powered machine. Something inside called me to “tinker, putter, build.” Though it started with Dad’s scraps, I’ve continued to follow that “whisper.” Now I use words to build stories. 

When I learned about Franz Gsellmann and his “World Machine,” I connected to his urge to create and the wonder and joy he found in tinkering. I loved his resourcefulness, up cycling, and perseverance in the face of criticism. His story is the intersection of art and science, but also about following your heart, expectations, and the question of value. I started Franz’s story in 2015, scratching my itch to write with his story. The manuscript went through many revisions, caught the eye of agent Stephanie Fretwell-Hill, and then went through more changes over several years. The story found a home at Kids Can Press, was illustrated by the creative Caroline Hamel, and will be released for all young tinkerers on May 3, 2022.

I’m thrilled to reveal the playful, imaginative, whimsical, colorful cover……

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And here is a little about the book from the publisher…

For every child who longs to make the most amazing thing, here’s a delightful picture book biography of a determined self-taught inventor who never stops following the call to imagine, discover, create. From the time he is a small boy, Franz is curious about machines and how they work. He wants to try to build his own. Even though he’s needed to work on the family farm, and later marries and has a family of his own, Franz never gives up on his dream. He learns and tries and tests his ideas all on his own. And though many people don’t understand or appreciate Franz’s work, when his fantastic, complex creation is completed at long last, he finally finds an audience that recognizes his genius. Beth Anderson’s uplifting picture book biography offers an engaging look at the inspiring life of Franz Gsellmann, an inventor from rural Austria who, with no formal artistic or engineering training, built an elaborate, intricate machine called the Weltmaschine (World Machine). The well-told story extols the joy of curiosity and inventing for inventing’s sake, and explores the concept of mechanical-kinetic sculptures, in which art and science intersect. Whimsical illustrations by Caroline Hamel help bring the subject to life. Supporting backmatter includes an author’s note, resources, a biography of Franz, an explanation of the machine, a search-and-find activity and questions to get children thinking about their own ideas that could lead to fun classroom activities. This book has strong STEAM curriculum links, particularly in technology and structures, and valuable character education lessons in courage, perseverance and resilience.

Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine is now up for pre-order.  Amazon –  Barnes and Noble           


31 thoughts on “Cover Reveal! Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine

  1. Congratulations Beth! Love the cover! My head/brain looks similar to that except surrounded by musical instruments and recording equipment……and of course books in the kidlit recording studio. You always find such interesting people. I like the story about you being a budding tinkering scientist as a kid. Can’t wait to read it next Spring. Not certain yet, but I think you have yourself another one hour school musical.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate to your backstory for your new book. My dad’s basement workshop was a magical place for experimenting with scraps of wood and his various tools. Your book’s cover is wonderful with it’s clever title, and the theme is great fun. Congratulations, Beth!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on your new book! Love your own back story and why Franz’s story resonated with you. Oh, I have a 7-year-old great grandson who LOVES to tinker and build things. He’d love this book. I used to have fun building things, but I turned that towards crafts, sewing, needlepoint etc. And the release date is on my birthday — how funny!

    Liked by 1 person

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