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[Monday Reading] Wild Girls Who Do Not Wish to be Princesses: Ada Twist Scientist, Rosie Revere Engineer, and Young Charlotte Filmmaker


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.


Most young girls want to become princesses or faeries – nothing wrong with that, perfectly good choices, but also fairly predictable and pretty much a given for most. Hence, when picturebooks feature young girls who want to become something other than the usual princess, I immediately seek them out – and here are three of them.

img_7250Young Charlotte Filmmaker

Written and Illustrated byFrank Viva
Published by: The Museum of Modern Art, New York ISBN: 087070950X (ISBN13: 9780870709500)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

I have been looking for a Charlotte in picturebooks for awhile now. She is, for lack of a better term, a hipster young girl. I know the term has been receiving a lot of flak lately, so I hesitated using it.


But hey, how will you describe this girl who loves taking black and white photos, watching old black and white films, not to mention her strange half-shaved hairstyle and heavy, black-rimmed round glasses? Everything spells “hipster.” 🙂 And she can be quite “emo” too whenever she feels “discouraged” as can be seen below:


However, her parents know exactly how to cheer her up: all it takes is a black and white movie at The Golden Theatre. Clearly, the entire setting of the picturebook is in New York – it is, after all, created under the auspices of the Museum of Modern Art, which by the way also played quite a huge role in the plot of the story. While I did find the ending to require some very active suspension of disbelief, it was Charlotte’s distinctiveness which appealed to me and the fact that she wanted to “drink all the color right out of the air.”


Clearly, Charlotte is a young New Yorker who is very much a product of her “wowzers” “cool” generation.

Rosie Revere, Engineerimg_7267

Written by: Andrea Beaty Illustrated by: David Roberts
Published by: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013 ISBN: 1419708457 (ISBN13: 9781419708459)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

Ok, true confession. I don’t like rhyming text in picturebooks, particularly the stilted ones that sound contrived. While I initially had reservations about the narrative, it was really the story of Rosie’s initial timidity and eventual persistence that caught me.


I think it was also deliberate on the part of the author to characterize Rosie as an average, quiet, flying-under-the-radar kind of student.

But when no one saw her, she peeked in the trash 

for treasures to add to her engineer’s stash.

And late, late at night, Rosie rolled up her sleeves

and built in her hideaway under the eaves.


But see, Rosie wasn’t always that shy and timid. It was a failed invention that made her hesitate and question her abilities. It took her oldest relation, her great-great-aunt Rose’s visit and declaration that she wanted to fly that inspired Rosie to go back to the drawing board and invent something big yet again.


This is a great picturebook that demonstrates the value of persistence and how you don’t necessarily get things right the first time around. I also especially loved how it showed the importance of being able to laugh at one’s self, shaking the failure off while learning from it, and trying again.


Whether or not Rosie succeeded in her project, I shall leave for you to discover. It will also be good to pair this title with Ashley Spire’s The Most Magnificent Thing which I reviewed here.


Teachers might also want to read the historical Note found at the end of the book, indicating where the name Rosie Revere originated from, and how it is a salute to the scarf-wearing fictional character, Rosie the Riveter, during World War II.


img_7257Ada Twist, Scientist

Written by: Andrea Beaty Illustrated by: David Roberts
Published by: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2016 ISBN: 1419721372 (ISBN13: 9781419721373)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me. 

A classmate of Rosie Revere (the Engineer) and Iggy Peck (the Architect), Ada Twist, I believe is the best yet. This latest instalment from the lovely collaboration between Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, is a celebration of curiosity and the importance of constantly asking questions.


I also especially liked the fact that Ada was shown to have delayed expressive language skills in the beginning. She did not speak until she was three years old with her first word being “Why?”


And from “Why?” the questions “What? When? Where? How?” came quite naturally. I also like how it was shown that her questions led to more questions that required empirical investigation for them to be answered adequately. Let’s also take a closer look at Ada Twist’s family and their clothing – the decidedly 80s vibe made me fall in love with it even more (the mother is quite clearly a fashionista – I love her oversized glasses and her short cropped hair).


The fact that race/ethnicity is also a non-issue in this story is a demonstration of the remarkable progress of modern picturebooks. Now back to the story. It wasn’t always very easy-going for Ada Twist, because there are also occasions when her avid questioning can get her in trouble:


By and large, though, I loved how the adults have been portrayed as largely supportive in these three picturebooks. There was enough breathing space for the child to gain a sense of autonomy, and sufficient support to encourage the child to pursue their own interests with scaffolding.


I also especially loved reading the Author’s Note found at the end of the book:

Women have been scientists for as long as there has been science. Theyv’e asked questions and looked for answers to the secrets of the universe. Of soil and stars. Stalactites and seahorses. Glaciers and gravity. Brains and black holes. Of everything.

Ada Marie Twist is named for two of the many women whose curiosity and passion led them to make great discoveries. Marie Curie discovered the elements polonium and radium, and her work led to the invention of X-rays. Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and the very first computer programmer.

Clearly, these are three picturebooks that you should find and introduce to your own students or children. Go read them now!

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “[Monday Reading] Wild Girls Who Do Not Wish to be Princesses: Ada Twist Scientist, Rosie Revere Engineer, and Young Charlotte Filmmaker

  1. Ashley Spires is from my home province, so I’m always thrilled to see her books mentioned. 😉 I love the Rosie Revere / Iggy Peck / Ada Twist series – they’re so fun and stylish, I can’t wait for future books in the series!!


  2. I love the idea of encouraging “unusual” dreams for young girls! Go Girl Power right?
    If you’re interested in knowing more about female support, you may want to check out iisuperwomanii’s recent #GirlLove Campaign.

    Thanks for sharing, and Happy Reading!


  3. I love the idea of encouraging “unusual” dreams for young girls. If you want to know more about female support, you should check out iisuperwomanii’s #GirlLove Campaign.

    Thanks for sharing, and Happy Reading!


  4. I love the Andrea Beaty books. The first graders Skyped with another author at my school and I was pleased that he recommended Ada Twist, Scientist and her other books to them. Such greta lessons in them!


  5. billbrarian

    Ada Twist and Rosie Revere are making their way into our library as well. I’m excited to see if they circulate in our small time. They are such great books.


  6. So many students are interested in film, building, and science – These are wonderful books to help children learn about people who devoted their lives to their passions.


  7. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Love for Books and the Sound of Silence in NPR’s Best Picture Books of 2016 – Gathering Books

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