Home—Washington, DC. Agent—Terry Rossignol, Attwater Prairie Chicken NWR, P.O. Box 519, Eagle Lake, TX 77434.
Writer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Patents: Ingenious Inventions: How They Work and How They Came to Be, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (New York, NY), 2004.
The Daredevil's Manual, Blake Publishing (London, England), 2004.
Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Americas, Earth Island Journal, Texas Parks and Wildlife, North American Sportsman, New Mexico, and American Indian Report.
Ben Ikenson is a freelance author as well as a writer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His articles on conservation have appeared in periodicals of all kinds, from small regional publications to periodicals that have an international distribution. His first published book was Patents: Ingenious Inventions: How They Work and How They Came to Be. In this volume, intended for an audience of high school students and adults, Ikenson provides information on approximately one hundred inventions—some of them famous, others not. Most of the inventions covered in this book originated in the United States, during the years between the late eighteenth century up until the present day.
Each invention discussed is the subject of a two-page profile. Included is basic factual information, such as the name of the invention, its patent number, date of the patent, and the name of the inventor or corporation holding the patent. The invention's development after the initial patent, its importance in our world, and an explanation of how it functions are also provided. Any information on the patent application that is informative about the invention's purpose is excerpted, and original drawings from the records of the U.S. Patent Office are reproduced. Inventions of all sorts are included in the book, including those from the fields of agriculture, information technology, medicine, and aeronautics. Inventions discussed range from cat-box litter to the light bulb, from the Pez candy dispenser to television. Reviewing the book for School Library Journal, Lynn Nutwell noted that the book was informative enough to be a good resource for beginning a report on an invention, while also delivering "suficient humor and human-interest commentary in the anecdotal sidebars to sustain pleasure reading."
In addition to its content, Ikenson's book is also notable for its cover. As David Schneider remarked in his American Scientist review, the book appears to have "plastic packing material clinging to it." The cover is actually "an homage," according to Schneider, to one of the inventions in the book—Bubble Wrap. Schneider praises the way the author gives credit to quirky inventions that have had wide impact, such as Post-It notes. He also praised the author's entertaining style, noting: "One can't help but chuckle over many of the facts that Ikenson unearths." Schneider advised that readers looking for in-depth technical information would not find what they wanted in this book, but praised it as being "charming" and "a pleasure to explore."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Scientist, March 1, 2006, David Schneider, review of Patents: Ingenious Inventions: How They Work and How They Came to Be, p. 187.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, November, 2004, C.S. McCoy, review of Patents, p. 514.
School Library Journal, August, 2004, Lynn Nutwell, review of Patents, p. 147.
Science Books & Films, May 1, 2005, Sylvia McGrath, review of Patents, p. 116; November 1, 2005, review of Patents, p. 243.
SciTech Book News, September, 2004, review of Patents, p. 134.