The last couple of weeks on the blog have really reminded me how books can take you everywhere and anywhere. From “pink” books, to the Holocaust, to environmental campaigning, I do love the journey my blog takes me on.
Today’s roving brings us to contemplate engineering and what constitutes failure, with Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts, a follow up to this same team’s ingenious Iggy Peck, Architect.
Rosie dreams of being an engineer. She loves collecting rubbish and creating contraptions. But people laugh at her creations and her emerging confidence is soon crushed. When Great Great Aunt Rose tells young Rosie how she built aeroplanes during the war, Rosie is once again inspired. But will Rosie’s engineering work this time? What if her plans fail?
An upbeat rhyming tale about the value of trying and trying again, Rosie Revere, Engineer encourages readers to hold on to their passions, and to never give up, even if things don’t work out the first time. Great for encouraging a can-do approach to whatever life throws at you, Rosie’s tale also leads naturally into discussions about women’s roles during the Second World War, and women who have broken the mould in various fields, notably that of flight.
Rosie is creative, thoughtful, passionate, full of a sense of fun, and with more than a nod to Rosie the Riveter, not least with her matching headscarf, and the slogan “We Can Do It” on her flying machine.
Roberts’ illustrations are a scrapheap challenge (junkyard ward) junkie’s dream come true. Littered with curious details to pore over (can you spot a Wild Thing, or follow the unwritten story of the baby bird?) the colours are bright and pen drawings clear. Often on expanses of white, Roberts’ work is vibrant, crisp and fresh, perfectly matching the confident and purposeful message at the heart of the book.
There is a decidedly American flavour to the text (some rhymes, I assume, work better with certain US accents than my UK one, and cheese spray may seem rather mind boggling to many on this side of the pond) so a little contextualisation might be handy, but my young engineers didn’t bat an eyelid at this. They were simply delighted by this Rosie and her take on life. Spunky, funky and full of fun and inspiration, three cheers for Rosie Revere!
To go alongside reading Rosie Revere, Engineer I set up a little after-school structural engineering project involving essential tools of the trade: tooth picks and sweets.
The aim of the game was to see what we could build and how we could build it using just these two materials, plus some imagination, and a little bit of concentration…
Space rockets and climbing frames soon rose from the kitchen table.
A spider’s web of construction emerged, with lots of experimental investigation as to what made our feats of engineering stand strong.
We also got to explore the roles of different materials, as we quickly discovered that most dolly mixtures aren’t very good for this type of project, whilst mini wine gums and gum drops are excellent. (If you want to go for just one, the wine gums are a better bet as they are less messy; the gum drops litter the kitchen table with sugar sprinkles, and also make fingers stickier).
We all thoroughly enjoyed this engineering project, and M is very keen to try it again soon to model chemical compound structure (her idea!); different sweets for different elements? Definitely sounds fun to me.
Whilst designing, engineering and building we listened to some brilliant music:
Other activities which would be great fun to get up to alongside reading Rosie Revere, Engineer include:
Don’t miss the teacher’s guide to Rosie Revere either.
What are you going to engineer today?
Disclosure: I recieved a free reivew copy of Rosie Revere, Engineer from the publishers.