Book Review of The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer
The Children’s Book Review
Written by Mara Rockliff
Illustrated by Daniel Duncan
Ages 5-8 | 48 Pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press | ISBN-13: 978-1536212525
What to Expect: History, STEM, Women’s Rights, WWII
The Girl Who Could Fix Anything combines biography and science history to tell the fascinating story of one of the pioneers of the engineering field.
Beatrice Shilling was quite different from the little girls you often see in historical dramas. She preferred tools to toys, and when she grew up, she didn’t want to marry a prince – she wanted to build and fix things. In other words, she wanted to be an engineer. Luckily, Beatrice was very good at building and improving—so good that she was able to study engineering in college at a time when women were not accepted in colleges or the field of engineering.
It was lucky for Britain that Beatrice was so good at what she did because soon after she started working for the Royal Aircraft Establishment, the country found itself at war with Germany. Soon, the one thing that would stand between Britain and a German invasion was the Royal Airforce – and they had Beatrice to help them solve the mystery of why fighter plane engines would suddenly quit in the middle of a dive.
Although the history of women’s marginalization in STEM is a key theme in the story, the narrative focuses more on Beatrice’s extraordinary talents and achievements than on the obstacles she faced as a woman. Daniel Duncan’s detailed pencil illustrations evoke the vintage atmosphere of the story, and the expressions on the faces of the male characters convey the hostility and respect that are downplayed in the text itself, offering readers an opportunity to explore the text on multiple levels. An author’s note and resource list at the back of the book allow readers to explore the history more deeply.
The Girl Who Could Fix Anything is fun, informative, and an excellent choice for readers looking for STEM inspiration.
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About the Author
Mara Rockliff is the author of many lively historical books for children, including MESMERIZED: HOW BEN FRANKLIN SOLVED A MYSTERY THAT BAFFLED ALL OF FRANCE, winner of the Cook Prize and an Orbis Pictus Honor Book. Under the pen name Lewis B. Montgomery, she wrote all twelve books in the popular Milo & Jazz Mysteries chapter book series, which has been translated into Spanish, French, and Chinese. She lives in western Massachusetts with her family. Visit her online at mararockliff.com.
About the Illustrator
Daniel Duncan is a children’s book illustrator who likes to create vibrant characters within detailed environments, using earth colors and textures. He studied illustration at Middlesex University and now works from his home in leafy Amersham on the outskirts of London.
The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer by Mara Rockliff, was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with history, women’s history, STEM, World War II, Women in World War II, and books with strong female characters.
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