The Marvelous Thing That Came From A Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016. 9781481450652.
This is the story of the invention and ingenious marketing of the Slinky, from it’s accidental invention (while Richard James was working on an engineering project for the Navy) to the hard work he and his wife Betty James put in to name, market, and create a machine to make the Slinky from steel wire, then build a factory to make enough Slinkies for the nation. I liked that this story included Betty’s planning and managing their toy company. (As the note at the end mentions, Richard left for Bolivia in 1960 and Betty turned their nearly bankrupt factory into a national phenomenon.)
The illustrations are SO COOL. The jacket flap calls them “dioramic illustrations” — photos show painted and cut-out pictures of people and their surroundings combined with objects like washcloths standing in for suburban lawns and a tiny toy tricycle in Gimbels department store. The Slinkies are real coils of wire! Stuff like dominoes and multicolored toothpicks form picture frames around smaller images. The whole effect is stylish and satisfyingly tactile.