Thank You Very Much Captain Ericsson!

By Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge
Illustrated by Andrew Glass


When Captain John Ericsson wasn’t busy succeeding, he was busy failing, gloriously. This is the story of Captain John Ericsson (1803-1889), a Swedish-born engineer and inventor, whose inventions – a sleek, efficient fire engine, a speedy steam locomotive – were regularly met with scorn and disdain. History was made when his design of an ironclad ship to rival the Confederate Merrimac was met with the usual skepticism, and he remained steadfast. But in the end he and his ultimate invention are met by a grateful nation that finally says, “Thank you very much, Captain Ericsson!”

Video (Read by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge)


The inventor in John Ericsson couldn’t resist taking a look. He assured Mr. Bushnell the model ship would float if built. Then John showed Mr. Bushnell an ironclad model of his own that he had designed years before. As soon as he laid eyes on it, Mr. Bushnell realized John Ericsson’s model was exactly the thing the Union navy needed to hold the blockade. He hurried back to Washington to show the Ironclad Board John’s model, and he convinced the inventor to follow him a few days later.


“Initially, the title refers to the polite but woefully misguided dismissal of Captain John Ericsson’s many brilliant inventions… By book’s end, however, the title refers to the gratitude of a nation, for Ericsson was the inventor of the U.S.S. Monitor, the famous ironclad that helped the North win the Civil War. Wooldridge effortlessly carries readers along in her jaunt through what will likely be unfamiliar history, her prose striking the perfect balance between fact and attitude. Without lecturing, she makes it clear that Ericsson’s success lay not just in his engineering acumen, but also in his willingness to believe in himself and to remain “fixed on the possible.” Glass makes an ideal partner for this enterprise… A fine addition to the shelves of any budding historian – or gearhead.” – Publishers Weekly Starred Review

“This portrait of an engineer with both a gift for seeing “out of the present and into the possible,” and an unquenchable spirit, makes inspiring reading for budding innovators in the sciences or any other field.” – Kirkus Reviews

“The creators of The Legend of Strap Buckner (Holiday House, 2001) once again present a lively, larger-than-life figure. Born in Sweden in 1803, Ericsson constantly challenged staid thinkers with his avant-garde inventions. … Glass’s hilarious cartoon spreads depict pot-bellied officials, with clown-size shoes and exaggerated features who wring their hands and say, ‘No. We’ll not be needing your…, thank you very much, Captain Ericsson,’ each time he presents one of his newfangled machines. The book will introduce young readers to a man who had a huge impact on American history and will make an interesting sidelight to Civil War studies.” – School Library Journal

Thank You Very Much, Captain Ericsson!

Written by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge
Illustrated by Andrew Glass
Berndtsdotter Books, 2012
Picture Book; Ages 9-12
$7.95 (US)
ISBN 13: 978-0-9855626-0-1 (paperback)


>> Other Books by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

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