Friday, March 23, 2018

Izzy Gizmo shows us Girls can be Engineers

Got a problem? Then grab your tools and figure out how to solve it. That's something anyone can do regardless of their age or gender. Here are two books perfect for kids who hang out at the library maker-space or tinker in the basement.

theme: engineering, problem-solving

Izzy Gizmo
by Pip Jones; illus. by Sara Ogilvie
32 ages; ages 4-8
Peachtree Publishers, 2018

Izzy Gizmo, a girl who loved to invent, carried her tool bag wherever she went... 

Izzy mends things that don't work. She also tweaks them and embellishes them or invents something new. Her inventions are marvelous, magnificent ... and too often malfunction. Like the spaghetti-eating machine, and the nearly-automatic hair cutting robot. Just when Izzy is ready to quit in frustration, she finds a crow with a broken wing. Izzy knows she has to help.

What I like love about this book: I love the feisty and determined Izzy. I also like her patient and supportive grandpa who reminds her that inventors make a lot of mistakes before they get to "ah-ha!" What I really love, though, is when Izzy decides to help the crow regain flight. She'll invent wings. Sounds easy, but she's got to collect some materials (I love the scene where she liberates a couple engine sprockets from a motorcycle while the leather-jacketed guys aren't paying attention!).

I love the bright illustrations, the wonderfully expressive characters, and even the end pages that look like an erector set blew up and landed on the paper.

A few years back there was a wonderful book about Rosie Revere, Engineer. She's the shy girl who creates wonderful gizmos from recycled stuff... including a flying machine. It flops, but Rosie keeps on tinkering until she overcomes the problems. The book is fun, and inspired a lot of girls to grab their own tools and engineer their own solutions. So I was really happy when, last year the publishers released a wonderful, fun activity book for Rosie Revere fans.

Rosie Revere's Big Project Book for Bold Engineers
by Andrea Beaty; illus. by David Roberts
96 pages; ages 5-7
Abrams, 2017

If you have not read Rosie's story, fear not - this book begins with the original story (though condensed onto fewer pages). Then there's a great list of stuff you should have in your "inventor's toolbox" and 40+ things to invent, draw, and make.

First thing: a page for you to write down questions. Because engineering begins with a question. How can we do this? How can we make that better?

What I like love about this book:  There's space for you to reinvent the wheel (yes! really!) and instructions for constructing a catapult. There are challenges, places to write notes, graph paper, and inspiration for inventing.

Beyond the books:
Check out what engineers do - from creating structures to coding programs to creating ways to keep our environment healthy.

Create structures using jellybeans and toothpicks. You might find jellybeans on sale this week, and you can check this site for inspiration.

Construct things, like a Marble Roller Coaster or a Snack Cracker Pulley machine.

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup - and we're also joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies provided by publishers.


  1. Izzy sounds like a fantastic character -- curious, fun, and empathetic. And that cover grabbed my attention immediately. Great choice!

  2. Sounds wonderful! And room for reader response - nice! looking forward to seeing this book!

  3. Love both books. We were on the same wave length today. They go with my offering today "Little Worlds" about children finding the space to imagine, create and dream. You suggestions are perfect for my great niece.

  4. I'm familiar with Rosie Revere ~ great book! Izzy Gizmo looks equally wonderful!

  5. Love the name Izzy Gizmo! Both great empowering books for kids.

  6. Love Izzy Gizmo and your paring it with Rosie Revere's project book is genius. Great ideas for activites.