I’m pretty sure that all of my New Year’s resolutions over the past decade could be boiled down to the same predictable mantra. This year it’s cleverly disguised in the form of Meal Planning, but the basic idea is always the same: GET yourself together, lady! ORGANIZED. And while I usually reach some measure of success with the organizational goals I set in January, I have found myself wishing there was some magical way to impart the same desires onto my children. Yes, with 6 of us cohabitating in less than 1600 square feet, space is limited. And when there were 4 teeny bodies in addition to 2 adult ones, it didn’t seem so bad. But as they grow into their preteen, why-me, its-not-fair, simply charming selves…the space suddenly seems to shrink. The air gets thinner…the oxygen sucked up by the widespread panic caused by a missing Rainbow Loom, or a wayward footprint discovered on the face of a beloved Pillow Pet. And there aren’t enough bedroom doors in all of California to block out Demi Lovato as she reverberates through the house for the 374th time.
And as if all of this were not enough to derail my organization goals, I have one child in particular that is a hoarder collector. Her rock collection alone is enough to forge a path across Lake Tahoe, and includes a sub-category of “floating rocks,” which consists of a single slab of pumice, and resides in a lone glass of gray water on her desk. It all started at the age of 3 or so, when she insisted on carrying around giant purses filled with a completely random assortment of items. It is absolutely necessary that I bring these two flashlights, seven identical orange crayons, and plastic fried chicken with me everywhere! (Because one never knows when play poultry might be just the thing to get you out of a fix.) I was told it was a phase she would outgrow. But the ants we battled last month in her bedroom because a forgotten lozenge was buried underneath her cherished medley of erasers would beg to differ.
My husband and I choose to believe that this enthusiasm for…well…everything, can be harnessed into a kind of creativity that not everyone has. Even at 3 years old, she found creative uses for these “essentials.” Tinker toys had a second life as drinking straws, doll clothes doubled as fashionable scarves, and musical instruments became step stools. Flash forward to third grade, when her class did an egg-drop assignment. She had to look no further than her own bedroom to construct a successful protective case. A little tape and a bag of peppermint marshmallows later, she had an A+ project on her hands. Like a mini-MacGyver, we figure she could tunnel her way out of her bedroom using neon highlighters and dolphin stickers if it became necessary.
So when I opened up the picture book ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER, and saw this, I gasped.
Holy Moly, someone wrote a picture book about my child! So if you are like me, and have offspring who you fear may someday appear on TLC’s newest home intervention reality show, buck up and have hope! Your child may well be the brilliant mind behind the next great invention of our time.
ROSIE REVERE, ENGINEER
Written By: Andrea Beaty
Illustrated By: David Roberts
Published By: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013
Synopsis: “Where some people see rubbish, Rosie Revere sees inspiration. Alone in her room at night, shy Rosie constructs great inventions from odds and ends. Hot dog dispensers, helium pants, python-repelling cheese hats. Rosie’s gizmos would astound—if she ever let anyone see them. Afraid of failure, she hides them away under her bed. Until a fateful visit from her great-great-aunt Rose, who shows her that a first flop isn’t something to fear—it’s something to celebrate.”
“This is the story of Rosie Revere,
who dreamed of becoming a great engineer.
In Lila Greer’s classroom at Blue River Creek,
young Rosie sat shyly, not daring to speak.
But when no one saw her, she peeked in the trash
for treasures to add to her engineer’s stash.
And late, late at night, Rosie rolled up her sleeves
and built in her hideaway under the eaves.”
How to use this book with your kids: Having three girls means that I am always looking for books that can counteract the Disney Channel culture they love so much. Life as a female is about more than finding the perfect outfit. In this book, we see a girl who is passionate about building, constructing, inventing…things that our culture has traditionally classified as male attributes. So I like being able to point to Rosie as someone who is pursuing a dream that is outside of gender boxes. There are also a ton of historical references in this book, being that Rosie is an obvious nod to Rosie the Riveter. So if you are feeling especially ambitious, you can talk with your kids about the role of women in World War II, as well as women who played a key part in the evolution of the airplane and flight. Check out this brilliant spread from the book, where amazing women like Harriet Quimby and Amelia Earhart are featured.
The story has a clear (if somewhat heavy-handed) message: “The only true failure can come if you quit.” And so Rosie is a great example for all of us as we try to make changes in our lives this year. Now excuse me while I go dig my “collector” out from under a colorful array of fedoras. We’ve got a book to read.