Written by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013
This is the story of Rosie Revere,
Who dreamed of becoming a great engineer.
The plot in a nutshell: A young girl loves inventing and building.
Rosie is generally quiet in class, but in the evenings, she creates inventions. She used to share her inventions, but when her favorite uncle laughed at something she had built, she started keeping her ideas to herself. One day, her great-great aunt Rose comes to visit. She tells Rosie about how she used to help build airplanes when she was young, but that she never got the chance to fly herself. Rosie builds a flying machine, hoping to surprise her aunt. When she tests it, it lifts off the ground, but then crashes. Aunt Rose laughs and Rosie starts to get upset, but then Aunt Rose tells her she is happy and proud of her, reminding her that it did fly before it crashed and that this was only the first try. Then they get to work on the next model together.
This is one of those books that I had seen on the shelf at the library several times before I finally picked it up and right away, I regretted waiting so long. Author Andrea Beaty tells a wonderful and inspirational story here with important messages aimed at both kids and adults. For kids, the message is to not let setbacks get you down and to keep moving forward, learning and growing. For adults, the message is that encouragement is the best way to support your budding inventors and junior dreamers, who can be stopped dead in their tracks by belittling or discouraging comments. Of course, it’s always great for girls to see themselves represented in science and engineering roles, so that’s a plus, too.
The artwork, from illustrator David Roberts, is done with watercolors, pen and ink, with occasional pencil and graph paper for drawings of inventions. Rosie’s red polka-dotted hair bow mimics the polka-dotted scarf of Rosie the Riveter (which she eventually gets from her Aunt Rose). A note is included in the back of the book with some historical information about the women around the world who worked to help the war effort and Rosie the Riveter, whose slogan, “We can do it!” kept them going. Both the author and illustrator dedicate the book to their parents’ and grandparents’ generation ‘for doing what was needed when it was needed the most.’ This book is a lovely way to honor their work and impress that same spirit on a new generation of kids.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that, as Aunt Rose puts it, “the only true failure can come if you quit.”