Albert Einstein once said: “The important thing is to never stop questioning.” I’m sure this must be the principle that guides young Ada Marie in Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty. For, although she did not speak until the day she turned three, once the floodgates opened, the words and questions kept tumbling out.On the day she turned three, from the top of a grandfather clock, her first word was “WHY?” She continued:
“Why does it tick and why does it tock?” / “Why don’t we call it a granddaughter clock?” / “Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose?” / “Why are there hairs up inside of your nose?”
She started with Why? and then What? How? and When? / By bedtime she came back to Why? once again. / She drifted to sleep as her dazed parents smiled / at the curious thoughts of their curious child, / who wanted to know what the world was about. / They kissed her and whispered, “You’ll figure it out.”
As Ada grew, her questions continued, and everyone recognized that Ada “had all the traits of a great scientist.”
One day, Ada was busy doing what good scientists do, “when a horrible stench whacked her right in the nose—a pungent aroma that curled up her toes.” The book follows her quest to discover what could have made such a terrible smell.
An observant reader will notice the source of the stink and will giggle away at all of Ada’s experiments (experiments that ultimately get her in trouble). Ada’s response to her punishment will send the reader into another round of laughter.
The rhyming by Ms. Beaty is brilliant. It is funny and is easy to read out loud to a young listener. It also celebrates and encourages the young scientists in our midst. After Ada’s parents saw one of her messes:
They watched their young daughter and sighed as they did. / What would they do with this curious kid, / who wanted to know what the world was about? / They smiled and whispered, “We’ll figure it out.”
And that’s what they did—because that’s what you do / when your kid has a passion and heart that is true. / They remade their world—now they’re all in the act / of helping young Ada sort fiction from fact. / She asks lots of questions. How could she resist? / It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.
David Roberts’ illustrations are the perfect match to this great story. He has done a fantastic job creating Ada Twist and giving her personality and life in his pictures. Mr. Roberts used graph paper to some of the illustrations, adding a unique background when Ada’s scientific and inquisitive mind raises questions.
The book contains a short Note From the Author, which I believe merits including here in its entirety:
Women have been scientists for as long as there has been science. They’ve asked questions and looked for answers to the secrets of the universe. Of soil and stars. Stalactites and seahorses. Glaciers and gravity. Brains and black holes. Of everything.
Ada Marie Twist is named for two of the many women whose curiosity and passion led them to make great discoveries. Marie Curie discovered the elements polonium and radium, and her work led to the invention of X-rays. Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and the very first computer programmer.
Thank-you, Ms. Beaty, for such an inspiring statement and a beautiful book.
Andrea Beaty is online at www.andreabeaty.com. On her website, Ms. Beaty has teachers’ guides for a number of her books, as well as many other downloadables.
Have you read any great books lately?