Special thanks to Andrea Beaty for answering 5 questions about her recently featured book – Rosie Revere, Engineer
I attended Southern Illinois University and studied Biology and Computer Science. After that, I worked for a computer software company. I helped people with their computer problems (“Did you try turning it off and on again?”) and some technical writing. I didn’t know at the time, but tech writing was great training for writing for kids because it taught me to be a fierce self-editor. Now, I live in Chicagoland with my family. I visit lots of schools each year to share my love of reading and my writing journey with kids and educators. From Andrea’s Homepage
#1 – What was the inspiration for this book?
ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER was inspired by the illustrations in IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT. Like every group of kids, the students in Miss Lila Greer’s class have talents all their own. I hope to explore some of the other kids’ talents in the future, but Rosie piqued my interest first because she is so shy. Even though she is the smallest of all the kids, she looks like she wants to make herself even smaller. Perhaps disappear altogether. She hides behind her bangs and you never see both of her eyes at once. In my experience, shy people might not talk all the time, but they are busy watching and listening and thinking. They often have great ideas to explore. Rosie is no exception! I knew I wanted to write a story about a scientist or engineer. I studied biology and computer science in college and love science. I wanted to share that with kids.
#2 – How did Rosie the Riveter influence this book?
My Aunt Emaline was a Rosie the Riveter. She worked in a munitions plant in Alton, Illinois making Chinese bullets. Like all the people I know of her generation, she just did what was needed when it was needed the most. David and I both feel deeply that we owe an unpayable debt to the men and women of her generation because they basically saved the world. That’s why we dedicated the book to them.
I named the main character in this book Rosie because I needed some alliteration with her last name which for some reason was already Revere in my mind. However, I struggled with the plot and didn’t quite know what challenge young Rosie should face. Then, one day, I got to thinking about Rosie the Riveter and wondered what would happen if they were related. It was really the turning point for the story and everything snapped into place. It was a little spooky, actually.
#3 – The book seems to focus on getting girls to study engineering. Is this important to you?
When I read this book at schools, I find that ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER connects with both girls and boys which is simply fantastic. Having said that, getting girls excited about engineering is very important to me. The truth is that we have enormous problems to fix in this world. We need every boy and every girl to develop their full potential so they can help. We need scientists and engineers (and artists and architects and . . . ) Lots of boys find their way into science and engineering, but somewhere along the road, we lose the girls. That means that we are losing a lot of the potential brainpower and we need it! This book is very new, but already, I am getting e-mails from parents telling me that Rosie has inspired their daughters to be engineers. I hope that in 15 years, some of those girls will come up to me and let me know that they did!
#4 – The illustrations in the book have a lovely richness and visual complexity. What was the thinking behind these images?
These illustrations reflect the genius that is David Roberts. I have read IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT hundreds of times and I still find new details hidden in the illustrations. That amazes me because the illustrations are not fussy or cluttered. They are smart and funny and tender. I look forward to years of finding hidden gems in the illustrations of ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER.
With ROSIE, there were times when I suggest a tiny detail (like the sphinx in the background of ROSIE which shows readers that she lives next to IGGY), but beyond that, David created the visual world and it is a wonder! I will say that I audibly gasped in delight when I saw the art for ROSIE and turned to the page with Great-great Aunt Rose and the B-29. Simply amazing. Readers will also enjoy the subtle details that connect the two books.
#5 – Do you have any other projects/books coming up that you can tell us about?
Yes! Next year, David Roberts and I have a new book called Madame Chapeau about a lonely hat maker whose hat gets stolen by a crow on her birthday. I wrote it for David when I learned that he used to design hats in Hong Kong. He is working on the illustrations now and I can’t wait to see them! Also, I am working on a sequel to Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies which is a very goofy sci-fi novel/graphic-novel hybrid illustrated by Dan Santat. I am really enjoying tucking a little bit of actual science into this one.