Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine


Septimus Bean discovers the true purpose of his curious invention.

When I was three years old, my mom signed up my brother and me for a weekly book club. We’d dive into each story, reading about and acting out new characters. When we received Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine, my mom became the machine as she rumbled and twitched across the room. From that day on, Septimus Bean was a daily read.

Septimus Bean is one of my favorite children’s books as a story of adventure and discovery. Illustrated by Art Cumings of Please Try to Remember the First of Octember! and A Good Fish Dinner, we follow a lanky lad who proudly presents his invention to King Albert III to find its purpose. The king stands in awe as he watches this monster-like contraption move its gears, shake its bells, and blow its bubbles. After failed attempts at washing clothes, cleaning floors, and flying, the machine breaks into pieces and finally becomes a playground. Exclaim the king and queen: “You’ve invented a playground Septimus Bean. And what could be nicer to visit each day then a place you’ve invented for children to play.” This story is filled with imagination, invention, and even seven princesses who do their own laundry.

There is no doubt this book left an indelible mark on my memory because of its whimsical illustrations, but what really grabbed and kept my attention was the story’s cadence. The rhyming at the end of each line and its familiar tempo made me feel like I was surrounded by not only characters in the book, but also fanciful music.

Find Septimus Bean and His Amazing Machine at your local library.