In Rosie Revere, Engineer, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, the wonderful story of Rosie, a second grader with a knack for inventing, is masterfully told. With the dream of becoming an engineer, Rosie creates a variety of gadgets, including a hat to keep snakes off the head of her zookeeper uncle. However, after her creation is laughed at, the creative protagonist becomes discouraged, subsequently deciding to no longer share her passion. As the book progresses, the mood brightens as Rosie is visited by her Great-Great-Aunt Rose, who provides encouragement and motivates her young niece to persevere and continue nourishing her dream. In a happy ending, the picture book concludes with themes of resilience, hard work, and triumph over failure.
Written in rhymed couplets, Beaty’s piece employs the perfect combination of both serious and silly. While Rosie’s inventions include the use of cheddar cheese spray, the book is not all nonsense, exploring the ideas of goal achievement and determination in a way which is fun, yet deliberate and thoughtful. The work also includes fabulous vocabulary, mentioning gadgets, gizmos, and doohickeys, and including the emotional jargon of embarrassed, perplexed, and dismayed. With a sing-song style, Rosie’s story truly conveys the idea that “Life might have its failures, but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit”.
Not only is the writing style superb, but the illustrations also contribute to the story as a whole. With large portions of white space on each page, the bursts of bright color added by Roberts’ artwork draw the reader’s attention and are extremely appealing. Furthermore, the illustrations are pleasantly detailed, from the fabric of the characters’ clothing to the intricacies of Rosie’s creations. Exploring the idea of engineering, a highly detail oriented field, the artwork greatly complements and efficiently portrays the text. Although the characters look less realistic than other styles of illustration, their cartoonish nature further adds the element of amusement to the piece. Beginning and ending with end pages and a book jacket that displays graph paper, these details of the book also contribute to the engineering theme. In removing the book jacket, a wonderful surprise is revealed. Against a white background are a plethora of colorful creations and materials, from rocket ships to paper clips. From beginning to end, Rosie Revere, Engineer never fails to amuse and amaze.
With a fantastic combination of text and illustration, Beaty and Roberts’ piece deserves five stars. However, when looking beyond these elements, the book earns even more applause. In emphasizing the idea of a young girl engineer, the picture book works to defy gender stereotypes, encouraging female involvement in STEM fields, such as engineering or inventing. Furthermore, the book provides a strong female role model in both Rosie and her Great-Great-Aunt Rose, who is the famous Rosie the Riveter, a fact confirmed by the historical note on the work’s copyright page, which details the important role of women during World War II. Through Aunt Rose’s wisdom and Rosie’s perseverance and interest, readers are provided with the message that anyone, even girls pursuing engineering, can achieve their goals through hard work. In today’s world, it is imperative to communicate to children that they are capable of becoming and doing anything they set their mind to, no matter what their gender, sex, race, ethnicity, or any other factor. In a beautifully clever way, Rosie Revere, Engineer does just that.