What happens to a little girl who wants to build things if her initial efforts are met with laughter? If the girl is Rosie, in Andrea Beaty’s delightful Rosie Revere Engineer, she sits quietly in school, never saying a word, then late a night, where no one can see, she sets to work.
Alone in the attic, the moon high above
dear Rosie made gadgets and gizmos she loved.
And when she grew sleepy, she hid her machines
far under the bed, where they’d never be seen.
Her creativity continues, but not in a way teachers or family members are likely to see. Rosie’s story reminds me both of the importance of self-efficacy in persistence (which she apparently had in abundance!) and also of the impact small acts of encouragement—or discouragement—can have on creativity in schools.
Fortunately, Rosie’s story has a happy ending. When great-great-aunt Rose reveals her long-standing dream to fly, Rosie gets to work. Surely, she thought, she could build a machine to fulfill her beloved aunt’s dream. She worked with enthusiasm and the machine did fly—for a moment. At this point, Rosie’s self-efficacy began to wane and she wondered if she’d ever be an engineer. Great-great-aunt Rose is wiser, pointing out that, “[Her] brilliant first flop was a raging success! Come on, let’s get busy and on to the next!”
The book ends with a busy class of second graders building “gizmos and gadgets and doohickeys, too,” celebrating each perfect failure, then going on to the next. Rosie Revere Engineer is a perfect beginning-of-the-year book for building a classroom atmosphere that supports the risk taking (and failure) necessary for creative efforts. Take a look, and if you love Rosie, you may want to explore Beaty’s other books including Iggy Peck Architect and Ada Twist Scientist.