Book Review: Ada Twist, Scientist

Representation matters. We know this. We know that seeing children that resemble themselves helps with self-esteem and confidence. Media children consume during their early years helps shape their ideas of what they are capable of- what they can do and be. Unfortunately, representation in children's books is abysmal. In 2015, only about 14% of children's books featured characters that were non-white. Less than 8% feature Black main characters. Less than 4% feature Asian characters. Less than 3% feature Latinx characters. Less than 1% feature First Nations or indigenous people. To put those numbers in perspective, talking animals and trucks make up just over 12% of children's book characters. 

The numbers get worse when you start tallying up girl characters. In all categories. 'Boy' is still seen in publishing circles (and others) as default- the assumption being that girls will read books about boys but not the reverse.

So. In this tiny space I have, this small little blog where I can do and say what I wish- I am choosing to do my very best to bring your attention to books featuring minorities of all stripes.  

 

With that in mind- let's talk about a book that features a Black girl scientist. "Ada Twist, Scientist" by the incomparable Andrea Beaty, is a fabulous, rhyming and delightful romp through the world of small Ada, a young girl who didn't speak a word until she was three- only to dive into why, why, why, why, why with a vengeance. 

 The illustrations, by David Roberts, are absolutely lovely. 

The illustrations, by David Roberts, are absolutely lovely. 

Ada's parents, and later teacher, struggle to keep up with her as she strives to figure out the what, how, why of everything she comes across- like any good scientist. One day, Ada decides to figure out big stinks- how does the nose know something is stinky, and where does a big stink come from? She tests her hypotheses- maybe it's cabbage stew? Perhaps the cat? Until her tired parents have had enough and have her sit in the hall. 

 Seriously, the illustrations are a delight. 

Seriously, the illustrations are a delight. 

So Ada sits. And thinks. And sits. And thinks. And sits and thinks and thinks and sits until she starts writing down all of her questions and answers until the hallway is covered and her parents, like good parents should, recognize their daughter's curiosity as something to be valued. 

"Ada Twist, Scientist" is by the same duo that brought us the lovely "Iggy Peck, Architect" and the absolutely stellar "Rosie Revere, Engineer" and they have not dropped the ball with their third offering. There are so few books featuring young girls of colour in STEM themes that I would, frankly, take basically any book, with even the barest hint of a plot, and without decent illustrations. Thankfully- this time I don't have to. It is a treasure, and should be in all classrooms (and homes). 

 

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