Sofia Valdez, Future Prez (Andrea Beaty)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sofia Valdez, Future Prez, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, the fourth inspiring character to emerge from the pair’s phenomenal Questioneers series.

Even when she was a baby, Sofia liked to get things done, especially when she was helping others. As she grew, she and her abuelo would head out every week to help the elderly people of their community; there was no public space for them to gather, so most spent their time home alone. As Abuelo was walking Sofi to class one morning, their dog spotted a squirrel and gave chase, leading Sofi and Abuelo to fall down a massive hill of garbage. Abuelo injures his leg and is unable to walk with Sofia, who is furious at the dangerous and disgusting trash pile. She decides to do something about it, and leads a charge, her bold ideas inspiring many of her neighbors to support her. However, once the time comes to make a plan and follow through, Sofia suddenly realizes: it’s all on her to make things happen. But how can one little girl do big things all on her own?

Fantastic. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Beaty and Roberts NOT creating a book that is touching, inspiring, beautiful, and as much fun to look at as it is to read. Not a tale of politics so much as one of government – and the grit and determination it often takes to break through bureaucracy – there is also the strong message that activism has no age limits. Yet with all these big themes, Beaty’s playful yet powerful writing style and Roberts’ quirky illustrations (FILLED with callbacks, cameos, and Easter eggs for eagle-eyed readers to find) keep things light. The length is perfect, and JJ and I loved it. A phenomenal tale of courage and compassion, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau (Andrea Beaty)

Hello friends! Our book today is Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, a touching tale of kindness.

In a small shop, a shy young woman makes the loveliest hats in the world, each meticulously crafted to fit its owner’s look and personality. Each day, Madame Chapeau makes her special hats, then returns to her apartment to eat a lonely dinner for one. The only exception is her birthday: she dresses in her finest couture, wears her own special hat (made for her by someone very dear), and heads to the fanciest restaurant in town to eat her birthday dinner alone. This year, as she is en route, she trips and knocks loose her special hat, which is then snatched away by a crow. Devastated, Madame Chapeau chases the bird through the streets, pleading for the return of her hat, to no avail. Passersby see the woman’s distress, and each offer their own hat to replace her lost one, but she cannot bear to ask the owners to part with their own special hats. Dejected, she returns to the restaurant, where a wonderful surprise awaits…

This one was so unexpectedly emotional, and it left the warmest feeling in my heart. On the surface, the tale of Madame Chapeau opening her heart after strangers show her the utmost kindness (and I won’t spoil the ending, which is devastatingly sweet), is a wonderful lesson for children in empathy. But through the use of subtle visual clues, and the hats as a metaphor for love, it also becomes a story about overcoming grief: though never explicitly stated, the illustrations reveal that Madame Chapeau is a widow, and her late love was the one who crafted her special hat. This detail makes the events of the story all the more devastating, then uplifting. Once again, Beaty and Roberts have crafted a quietly powerful story that stays with you long after the final page. The length is perfect, JJ and I both adored it, and this one is absolutely Baby Bookworm approved.

Iggy Peck, Architect (Andrea Beaty)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Iggy Peck, Architect, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, a tale about the importance of fostering passion and creativity.

Ignacious “Iggy” Peck builds his first building at age two: a towering skyscraper of glue and diapers (used). And despite his unusual choices of medium, such as food or dirt, his parents encourage his love of building. But when he attends second grade with Miss Greer, he is disheartened to find that the subject of architecture is forbidden in her class (due to Miss Greer’s disastrous childhood experience with skyscrapers). Not able to practice his passion, Iggy loses his thirst for knowledge, becoming listless and disinterested in school. One day, on a class trip across the river, the footbridge that connects them to the mainland collapses, leaving the children and their teacher trapped! But architect Iggy knows just how to save the day, and might just change Miss Greer’s opinion of building in the process.

This is the third book we’ve read from Beaty & Robert’s STEM-inspired series, and it’s just as satisfying as the previous two, but for a surprisingly different reason. While all three books are about scientific wunderkinds pursuing their endeavors despite discouragement and disappointment, Iggy specifically faces an authority figure who dismisses his work based on inherent bias. It’s a surprisingly apt metaphor for some of the problems scientists today can face, and a cautionary tale against dissuading children’s interests based on our own prejudices. It makes Iggy’s message feel like one for adults as much as children, and I liked that. Adding to the excellent story is Robert’s fun and quirky graph-paper illustrations and some spritely rhyming text. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed it. Perfect for scientists of any age, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Ada Twist, Scientist (Andrea Beaty)

Hello, everybody! Today, we read a fabulous book called Ada Twist, Scientist, written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, a fantastic story about a very curious little girl.

Ada Twist is so observant of the world around her, she does not utter a single word until she is three. And her first word? “Why?” Blessed with a curious, scientific mind, Ada performs experiments to help her answer all her questions about the world – sometimes to her family’s annoyance. Ultimately, however, they decide to think a bit more like Ada, and support her thirst for knowledge of the unknown.

This is another amazing book by Beaty, author of one of our all-time favorites: Rosie Revere, Engineer. Once again, it’s a story about a questioning and creative little mind (and a girl again, to boot!) whose love of STEM and interest in the scientific method is celebrated. Like Rosie, the rhyming text in this book is fun and flows well, and is complimented by adorable and intricate illustrations that bring the characters to life (for Rosie Revere fans, there is even an Easter egg or two). The length is fine for baby bookworms, JJ enjoyed it, and I will always love a good book that encourages young, critical minds, especially female ones, to pursue scientific endeavors. Baby Bookworm approved!