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Children's Nonfiction Historical

It's a Snap!

George Eastman's First Photo

by (author) Monica Kulling

illustrated by Bill Slavin

Initial publish date
Aug 2009
Historical, Curiosities & Wonders, Science & Technology
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2009
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2013
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 8
  • Grade: k to 3


In 1877 in Rochester, New York, George Eastman couldn’t understand why picture-taking was so difficult. Having left school at fourteen to support his mother and two sisters, George decided to find out by making photography his hobby. He packed up glass plates, a plate holder, a tent, a heavy tripod, a thick piece of black cloth, a water jug, and chemicals and set off to take his first photograph.

George realized that not many people could own a camera — they were too expensive and the size of today’s microwave ovens! But how could he make picture-taking easier? Eventually, George created dry plates, and they were such a success that he opened his own dry-plate company in 1881. But this was only the beginning — George went on to invent film and the Brownie camera. The rest is history.

Monica Kulling’s spunky, playful text is beautifully complemented by the stunning pen-and-ink with watercolor illustrations of artist Bill Slavin. It’s a Snap! George Eastman’s First Photo introduces a new series for Tundra — the Great Idea Series — a must-have for schools, libraries, and parents alike.

About the authors

Monica Kulling is the author of over forty books for children, including the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. The third book in the series, In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up, was nominated for the 2012 Governor General’s Award for illustration and chosen as the 2012 Simon Wiesenthal Honor Book. In addition, Monica’s work has been nominated for numerous Silver Birch Express and Golden Oak awards. Her recent picture books include Lumpito and the Painter from Spain and Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit her at

Monica Kulling's profile page

Bill Slavin has illustrated over sixty books for children, including Stanley's Party, Stanley's Wild Ride, Stanley at Sea, Transformed and The Farm Team. He lives in Millbrook, Ontario, with his wife, their cat, two rabbits, five squirrels and a family of cardinals.

Bill Slavin's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“[This] book will entertain and inform readers . . .This is terrific storytelling.” 
School Library Journal
“. . . a great way to introduce children to the wonders of photography.” 
Shutterbug Magazine

Librarian Reviews

It’s a Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph (Great Idea)

It’s A Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph is an inspirational biographic introduction to George Eastman’s fantastic adventures in photography. While students nowadays hardly refer to digital images as snapshots, they soon learn just why the moniker was indicative of the process years ago.

Monica Kulling prefaces the biography with a short poem called “Making History” which brilliantly assesses the value of pictures. This same theme is followed throughout the book as the reader watches George recording life: “When George traveled, he took pictures. When George stayed at home, he took pictures.”

Allowing young children to understand the idea of a biography being the story of a person’s life is one way of helping to establish the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Why did George want to change the way people took photos? How did he accomplish his mission? What was the timeline for changing the way people could take pictures? Good books make for good questions and children love to ask them. Bravo, Monica Kulling!

Bill Slavin’s watercolour and ink illustrations easily allow the reader to travel back in time. The fashions of the late nineteenth century depict the lifestyle of the characters George meets. Especially wonderful is his double-page spread in a “golden goose-like” scenario whereby the grocer, the baker, the blacksmith, the cobbler, and half a dozen others follow the fascinating idea of having their picture taken. The sepia-coloured photos illustrating George’s early pictures portray turn of the century locations. The poster on the inside of the book’s jacket (a clever way to introduce a book talk on biography) reads: “A splendid introduction to the amazing man who had so much to do with putting picture-taking within reach of us all.” Digital, computer-generated, cell phone, ipod images follow our daily actions… could George Eastman have envisioned the revolution he started?

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Winter 2010. Vol.33 No.1.

It’s a Snap! George Eastman’s First Photograph (Great Ideas)

Say cheese! Photography wouldn’t be what it is today if it hadn’t been for American, George Eastman (1854- 1932). Known as the father of popular photography, he brought this visual art form to masses of amateur shutterbugs with his inventions of flexible roll film, the Kodak camera of 1888, and the $1 Brownie camera of 1900.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2010.

Other titles by Monica Kulling

Other titles by Bill Slavin