Each month, the Chancellor selects a children’s book that she feels is inspirational and informative for the students, parents, and staff members who make up the City’s public schools. For past book selections, review the “Book of the Month” category right here on The Morning Bell.

Rosie Revere, Engineer
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013
By Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Rosie Revere dreams of becoming a great engineer. Alone in her attic at night, she creates gadgets and gizmos out of yarn, paper cups, screws, bolts, tin cans, and doll parts. Among her most prized inventions are a hot dog dispenser and a pair of helium pants. But when a hat she constructs from fan parts and cheddar cheese spray fails to impress her favorite uncle, the second grader shelves her invention—and her bold dreams. Then, her Great-Great-Aunt Rose comes for a visit, and teaches Rosie an important lesson about failure.


As the title suggests, this book pays homage to Rosie the Riveter, the iconic star of the famous wartime poster that was used to raise the morale of American women working in factories during World War II. But the book communicates a more important message about trying and trying again. Rosie revisits her dream of becoming an inventor when her Great-Great-Aunt Rose comes to town. Rose once built airplanes but has one great regret: she herself never got to pilot a plane. Determined to fulfill her great aunt’s wish, Rosie creates a heli-o-cheese-copter. To the child’s dismay, the copter sputters, floats for a moment, and crashes to the ground.

“I failed,” Rosie cries. But her great aunt sees it differently, telling the child: “Your brilliant first flop was a raging success!” She hands Rosie a notebook containing illustrations of aircraft dating from 1784 through 1980, along with her handwritten notes describing women’s “firsts” in aviation, including Élisabeth Thible’s flight in a hot air balloon, Amelia Earhart’s solo trip across the Atlantic Ocean, E. Lillian Todd’s first airplane design, and Lynn Rippelmeyer’s first time piloting a Boeing 747. Suddenly, all is clear to Rosie: “Life might have its failures, but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit.”

Great-Great-Aunt Rose’s sentiments provide a great example for all of us. Sometimes, when we dare to take a chance, we hit the sweet spot that otherwise would have eluded us. Other times, we crash to the ground, like Rosie’s failed inventions. Instead of giving up, we must pick ourselves up, reflect on our failures, make tweaks, and try again. In the end, we must see our flops as opportunities to learn and grow

Let us all join Rosie Revere and dare to dream the bold dreams of great engineers, while keeping in mind that all is possible.

Posted by Carmen Fariña

Former Chancellor of NYC Schools, lifelong educator, native Brooklynite, and proud abuela.