It’s not often that I begin with the ending, but I’m primed for the very last page of Rosie Revere, Engineer –it was Women’s History Month in March. Author Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts dedicated it: “With gratitude to our parents’ and grandparents’ generation for doing what was needed when it was needed most.” You might guess which Rosie inspired this book.
A historical note elaborates on women’s role on the home front in W.W. II—providing food and building equipment like ships and airplanes. “In the U.S. these women were represented by Rosie the Riveter, the scarf-wearing fictional character whose slogan was ‘We Can Do It!’”
In this picture book from Abrams Books for Young Readers, (for ages 5 and up), a young Rosie dreams of becoming a great engineer. But she suffers setbacks such as the failure of her “cheese hat” which triggers her uncle’s laughter. Her shyness and doubts dog her until the oldest member of her family helps out.
“Her great-great-aunt Rose was a true dynamo
who’d worked building airplanes a long time ago.
She told Rosie tales of the things she had done
and goals she had checked off her list one by one.”
The delightful illustrations by David Roberts use graph paper liberally and sprinkle the red and white spotted scarf throughout. In adorable fashion, all of Rosie’s relatives are depicted with their hair “swooping over one eye.” He and Andrea Beaty combined efforts on Iggy Peck, Architect also.
Much reflection by Rosie yields the inspiration for a “cheese-copter,”—but failure follows. Great-Great-Aunt Rose grasps the teachable moment to show her the flop is just the first step, and soon Rosie realizes,
“Life might have its failures, but this was not it.
The only true failure can come if you quit.”
The message “We Can Do It” comes through loud and clear in Rosie Revere, Engineer.
Promoting Inter-generational Connections:
Three guesses as to just why I like Rosie Revere, Engineer…you got it—it shows later life in a positive light—an older adult teaches a young person. When we challenge ageism we are also promoting positive relationships between the generations.
After enjoying it the first time through, talk about it with a child:
- Great-Great-Aunt Rose had an interesting life didn’t she? What kind of work did she do?
- Do you think her work helped people?
- Do you think Great-Great-Aunt Rose is smart? Why?
- How did she help young Rosie?
In her book for adults, AGEWISE: Fighting the New Ageism in America, author Margaret Morganroth Gullette seeks to raise “ageism-consciousness”—it is ageism we should fear, not aging.
She hooked me from the very beginning–when she says of her four year old granddaughter Vivi,
“I want her to feel all her life long that her sturdy little body has sacred integrity, that living is desirable and precious, that at every age the life course can be blessed. I want her to go on trusting me and thinking I am admirable.”
In Agewise she expands on “the decline system”—we all absorb ageist messages from childhood, become anxious about them in youth and middle age, and suffer the consequences as we get old. Ageism affects our physical and mental health and functioning, our relationships, our employment, and our enjoyment of life.
Children—those little sponges—they absorb so much! Let’s make it books that help us nip ageism in the bud and highlight strong connections like this special picture book.
A historical footnote—
Those B-24 Liberator bombers were constructed here in Michigan at Willow Run—created to pump out airplanes via assembly line for the first time. One airplane a day was the modest goal, but at its peak in the war it produced one airplane every hour, with the help of women like “Rosie the Riveter.”
The Yankee Air Museum is trying to save this famous bomber plant from the wrecking ball—their fundraising deadline is May 1st, 2014. For information and more history: see Save the bomber plant.org
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Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book. I was not required to write a review and I received no payment for this post.
Images from Rosie Revere, Engineer courtesy of author Andrea Beaty, and Rosie the Riveter images courtesy of Savethebomberplant.org. AGEWISE cover image courtesy of University of Chicago Press.