The story of Ole Kirk and the LEGO company origins has been told many times. In fact, here at BrickNerd we told the story with animation for the LEGO Brickumentary just last year. But I don't know that it's ever been told with such charm and accessibility as this new book by duopress, Awesome Minds: The Inventors of LEGO Toys.
I have to admit I was unsure about this book when it arrived here at BrickNerd headquarters. I’ve had the task of reviewing kids books before and I always found it odd. Who am I to say if it’s good or bad? I’m not the target audience. Clearly I’m not a kid anymore (chronologically) and what I thought was good back when I was can be pretty awful looking back (I mean really, I ate peanut butter and relish sandwiches and willingly watched Lidsville). Then again I play with toys for a living, so perhaps I’m not so far off the mark demographically. The thing I most enjoyed about this book was that it didn’t talk down to the reader. That’s my main problem with most kids book, they treat children like adorable little idiots, but in my experience kids are way smarter than they’re given credit for (and judging from Facebook, smarter than some adults I know). So to read the story of Ole, Godtfred, LEGO and the adventures in Billund Denmark from such a smart and informative perspective was refreshing.
The book isn’t just a timeline of the way the company was formed, it’s also jam packed with fun trivia, side stories and anecdotes on how LEGO has grown beyond a toy company. One of my favorite things is all the sidebars, with information about everything from sustainable efforts of the company to the story of Ole’s cousin Dagny Holm who was responsible for the first real brick sculptures. I know a lot about the company, I’ve been steeped in LEGO culture for years, and I still learned some things from this book, and that’s saying a lot.
If I have any harsh criticism of the book it would have to be the art style. Not that it’s bad art, far from it, but it doesn’t really seem to match the tone of the book. I think that’s was initially gave me pause before reviewing it. I really expected it to be a typical kids book, heavy on fluff and sentiment, and suitable for kids that can barely read. With the smart writing, wealth of information and charm of the book, it seems the illustrations could have been just a little more grown up. It’s still clearly a kids book though, with large type, bright colors and manageable amounts of reading.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, far more than I expected to. In fact, I thought I’d be thumbing through it, reviewing it and immediately donating it to a school teacher friend for her classroom. But you know, I think I’m going to add this to the BrickNerd library. It’s that good. I give it 5 out of 5 Nerdlys.
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