Book Review: Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts
Who should read it: Everyone who is 2 years and over.
Why you should read it: Rosie Revere’s delightful verse and beautiful illustrations take us through the story of a young inventor who sees her own creations as failures until an aunt points out they are all just learnings on the path to becoming a great engineer. An uplifting and light-hearted book which challenges gender norms.
Rosie Revere is a shy little girl who dreams of being a great engineer and unleashes her creative side when no one is looking. Hidden in her bedroom she creates gadgets and gizmos out of items that people have binned.
But it didn’t always use to be this way, when she was younger, Rosie had not been so shy and had happily made inventions for uncles and aunts. Alas, one day Rosie invented a hat for her zookeeper uncle Fred, to keep pythons off his head. He laughed in delight and in that wonderful way of children being unable to interpret adult’s frankly rather baffling behaviour, Rosie assumed he was laughing at her. From that day on she hid her inventions to avoid the embarrassment of being seen to fail.
That is, until her great-great-aunt Rose who worked building aeroplanes a long time ago, arrived. With illustrations of Rosie the Riveter in the background, we’re taken back to the contributions that women made to industry in the Second World War.
Rosie Revere summons up her own courage to share an invention with great-great-aunt Rose but was horrified to see yet another failure. Through encouragement, her great-great-aunt helps her see that:
‘Life might have its failures, but this was not it
The only true failure can come if you quit.’
Many people will be able to relate to Rosie, which is why this is such a popular book. Hiding a part of yourself, whether that’s part of your identity or a creative passion, both at work or with friends, is something most of us have done to one degree or another.
The book ends with Rosie, not only sharing her inventions with her school class but also cheering them on with their own creations. This shows the growth in mind-set Rosie goes through in the book. By the end, she’s a courageous and supportive leader of her peers.
The book is a celebration of female engineers and aviators but above all else, it encourages us all to recognise that none of us should fear failure. First, second, third attempts provide us with valuable learnings so that one day we can also achieve our own dreams.
Beaty, A. and Roberts, D. (2017) Rosie Revere, Engineer. New York: Abrams Books for young readers.