The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan Nominated for the 2022 Bluestem Award: Illinois Grades 3-5 Readers’ Choice Award

Named in honor of the Illinois state prairie grass, Big Bluestem, the award is designed for students in grades 3-5 and includes both timeless classics and current titles published nationwide. From these, twenty nominees are selected annually by AISLE (Association of Illinois School Library Educators). The winner is chosen each March by 3rd to 5th grade readers.

Wonderful Reviews for

The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan

“If a man puts something to block your way,

the first time you go around it,

the second time you go over it,

and the third time you go through it.”

Living by these words made inventor and entrepreneur Garrett Morgan unstoppable! Growing up in Claysville, Kentucky, the son of freed slaves, young and curious Garrett was eager for life beyond his family’s farm.

At age fourteen, he moved north to Cleveland, where his creative mind took flight amidst the city’s booming clothing-manufacturing industry.

Using his ingenuity and tenacity, Garrett overcame racial barriers and forged a career as a successful businessman and inventor. But when a tunnel collapsed, trapping twenty men, the rescue would test both Garrett’s invention–and his courage.

Told in compelling prose by debut picture-book author Joan DiCicco and dynamic illustrations from artist Ebony Glenn, The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan is a powerful biography of an extraordinary man who dedicated his life to improving the lives of others.

What people are saying …

Publishers Weekly

“DiCicco’s well-researched debut picture book highlights the life of boundary-breaking African-American inventor Garrett Morgan … Focusing primarily on the Safety Hood and a daring rescue that it facilitated, this biography recalls Morgan’s experience with fires as inspiration for the invention. Glenn’s digital illustrations, saturated in chalky sepias and browns, exude a diaphanous, smokey ambiance. An extensive timeline and bibliography wrap up this riveting tale of a man who fought against stacked odds to accomplish what he put his mind to.”


“DiCicco portrays Morgan as an intelligent, driven young man with a talent for solving problems through design … Glenn’s artistic style and use of color offer a realistic view of America in the early 1900s. This biography will find plenty of use in intermediate grades with units on black history, inventors, segregation, the great migration, or early American history. Media specialists, teachers, and librarians will find this book to be a good addition to their collections and STEM offerings.”

School Library Journal

“… witness the life of a man who saved lives with his inventions and proved that when it came to obstacles you can always find a way to get around, over, or through them. This is one of those cases where it’s difficult to separate my delight at discovering this historical hero from the presentation of his life. That said, I really found the text and the images of this book to be hugely compelling. DiCicco walks this nice balance between Garrett’s hardships and the sheer coolness of his solutions to problems … Glenn’s art is realistic without being … boring [which] serves the story well and keeps your interest from start to finish.”

“… Young readers will relate to this straightforward message of perseverance and encouragement and will warm to Glenn’s attractive cepia-tinted pencil and watercolor illustrations.”

— Kristy Pasquariello, Westwood Public Library, MA

Kirkus Reviews

“An accessible first look at a celebrated inventor in the black community … debut picture-book author DiCicco gives young readers a solid overview of Garrett Morgan’s wide-ranging versatility. DiCicco uses affirmative vocabulary like “unstoppable” and “brave” to describe his resilience and determination in life; the racism that he encountered along the way is not soft-pedaled. Glenn supplies earth-toned paintings that give a sense of the period and evoke mid-20th-century Disney cartoons. A stirring tribute to black excellence.”

Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature

The Unstoppable Garrett Morgan is on the CSMCL Best Books of 2019 list. For more about this organization and to view the complete list of titles, please visit