My Rating: 5 Stars
As an adult in my 30’s, I hadn’t donned a costume for Halloween in over a decade, but 2 years ago the friends I’d recently made were into that kind of thing, so I chose a character that was close to my heart. I was Rosie the Riveter. Although the icon’s original purpose had nothing to do with feminism, she was subsequently taken up as a symbol for the message that a woman can do anything if she puts her muscle and her mind to it. It’s that message and my love of history that led me to pick up a copy of Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty with illustrations by David Roberts. What I found was much more than a feminist message.
Young Rosie loves to build gadgets out of what other people think is trash, but she starts to hide her inventions and her creativity after being laughed at by someone she loves. A visit from her great-great aunt Rose, who used to work on planes, sparks another attempt at sharing her work. She wants to help her great-great aunt fly. Her first attempt at making a flying machine is a total flop and she’s ready to give up forever – to give up her dream of becoming an engineer. That’s when she learns a lesson about perseverance from her old aunt. She learns that you can’t be a success without first attempts and failures.
I wish Rosie Revere, Engineer had been around when I was a kid. I immediately related to Rosie’s descent into shyness because of her early embarrassment, and I imagine there are a lot of kids out there who hide themselves away because of the messages they’ve received from adults. Adults often say or do things that seem harmless or are meant in good fun, but those words and actions can sometimes take a toll on the how a child thinks about himself or herself. I can still hear one of my early art teachers telling me, “you’ve got talent, but you work too slowly.” I did not become an artist.
Rosie Revere, Engineer also portrays what it is like to have a creative mind. Rosie stays up at night working on her inventions. The creativity doesn’t leave her because she is too shy to share them. The ideas take hold anyway. Ultimately, this book is about not giving up on your dreams and recognizing that you only fail if you never try. That’s a message I think most of us need to hear.
While this book is a clear nod to women’s history on an adult level, even sneaking in some real facts about women and the history of flight, the story is universal. It offers inspiration to anyone, child or adult, who’s ever dreamt about becoming something or doing great things.
The engaging, rhyming text by Andrea Beaty, combined with the humorous and magical mixed-media illustrations by David Roberts, deliver an immersive story experience that is both heartrending and heartwarming. Rosie Revere, Engineer has the potential to be one of those books that stay with your child into adulthood. Why not give it a try?
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