In which Brianna reviews two picture books ideal for Women's History Month. This article contains affiliate links. When you purchase something using these links, you're supporting Busy Nest News. Thanks for your continued support.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts
This month, we’ve been reading and writing about children's books that celebrate Women’s History Month. While learning about women from the past is very fun, I also enjoy finding books that depict girls and women living and working in a way that is true to who they are. Whether these books are fiction or nonfiction, it is important for all children to see that girls can be and do just about anything they want. In short: representation matters. The latest book in this vein that I’ve read to Monkey is Rosie Revere, Engineer, by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts.
Rosie Revere is a little girl who is very quiet in her grade two classroom, but in her attic at home she builds amazing machines and inventions with her classmates’ cast-offs and broken things. She used to build and demonstrate her inventions for her family, until an uncle reacted in a way that she did not feel was very supportive. From then on, she hid all of her inventions, and kept them to herself. That is, until her great-great-aunt Rose, who used to build aircraft, comes to visit. Rosie can’t resist building her a machine to help fulfill her dreams. When Aunt Rose witnesses the failure of Rosie’s machine, she surprises Rosie by offering sincere congratulations on her efforts, as well as encouragement to try again, and books to help her along the way. After that, Rosie feels free to invent in the open, and she and her classmates celebrate trial and failure every day.
An especially nice touch in this story was the introduction of Rosie’s aunt Rose, clearly styled after Rosie the Riveter of WWII propaganda poster fame. This is great, because it subtly introduces a fascinating piece of history to an otherwise fictitious story. The author’s historical note at the end of the book offers a little more insight for anyone who’s interested in the various roles women played during WWII.
We cannot talk about this sweet book without discussing the illustrations. The style is different from other children’s books. The best way to describe Rosie’s attic workshop would be “organized chaos,” a description with which many inventors are probably familiar. The characters’ bold clothing and hair choices look like something from a fashion designer’s sketchbook. I really enjoyed the judicious use of graph paper as a background. It lends the illustrations in which it’s used a feeling of extra-mathematical authority. It’s important to note that this method is used when we’re looking at Rosie and Aunt Rose’s drawings, as well as when Aunt Rose is telling little Rosie all about her exciting career. The message is hard to miss: these ladies are serious engineers.
If I’m being honest, I was not expecting to like Rosie Revere, Engineer. I’m not sure why. I think it’s the mustachioed uncle with the helium pants on the cover. Something about that picture is so kooky, I went into this expecting a very different story than I found; something where imagination reigned, yes, but wasn’t as anchored to the very real implications of failure before a supportive audience as this book was. I loved it, and I can’t wait to read the other books by this duo. I give it five eggs, and encourage you all to read it and try to implement its lesson in your own lives, for your kids’ sake as well as your own.
Bonus: If you like Rosie Revere, Engineer, you’re going to love Ada Twist, Scientist. Ada Marie Twist (named after Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, according to the historical note at the end) is one of Rosie’s classmates in grade two. Her first word (at the age of three) was “Why?” and she’s been asking questions ever since! For another great example of how even very young girls can become scientists, and how their parents can lend support, you must read Ada Twist, Scientist. I love that you can find Ada in Rosie’s book, and Rosie in Ada’s. Monkey likes to look for them in the grade two group pictures. Like Rosie, Ada’s book has a charming rhyme scheme and engaging mid-century-mod style illustrations. Ada’s story didn’t hit me in the emotional gut quite the same way Rosie’s did, but the text was much more dynamic. Also, Ada Marie Twist reminded me quite a lot of Monkey, with her climbing and doodling and questions. Ada Twist, Scientist gets five eggs, as well.
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