Tag Archives: Inventions

#365PictureBooks Day 19 – The pilot and the little prince

“Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot—and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He battled winds and storms. He tried to break aviation records, and sometimes he even crashed. From his plane, Antoine looked down on the earth and was inspired to write about his life and his pilot-hero friends in memoirs and in fiction. Peter Sís’s remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world. A Frances Foster BookPublisher

This is one of the most beautiful sophisticated picture books I have seen. This is a book that will appeal to as many adults as children and the text and illustrations work very well to support different types of reading. There is a basic narrative story running along the bottom of the pages which tells the reader about the life of Antoine de Saint Exupery, in a simple style comprehensible to most children; then this is combined or layered with exquisitely detailed and sometimes fanciful illustrations. Lastly, there is very detailed text and captioning around the illustrations. Children who enjoy investigating small details, will love poring through this story and discovering exciting facts and ideas.

This is an inspirational biographical picture book which talks about having dreams and acting on them; suffering setbacks and disappointments but not giving up; about getting up and trying again.

See also:

Brainpickings.org (beautiful reproductions of pages from the book)

The Guardian (more wonderful illustrations and back story bout the authors interest in the subject)

Publisher page (inside sketches, teacher resources and more)

Bibliographic details:

The pilot and the little prince: the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery / Written and illustrated by Peter Sis.

Published by Francis Foster an imprint or Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2014

39 pages


NZ RRP $37.50

I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries

#365PictureBooks Day 13 Rosie Revere, Engineer

“Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. When her great-great-aunt Rose  comes for a visit and mentions her one unfinished goal — to fly — Rosie sets to work building a contraption to make her aunt’s dream come true. But when her heli-o-cheese-copter doesn’t fly but rather hovers for a moment and then crashes, Rosie deems the invention a failure. On the contrary, Aunt Rose insists that Rosie’s contraption was a raging success. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit.” Publisher description

Image source: Publisher

Filled with illustrator David Roberts’ fun and expressive artwork, this empowering story is full of great lessons about perseverance and dreaming big with a little history about women in aviation sprinkled in for good measure!” Amightygirl.com

See author website for videos and teachers guides to use with this book.

Not only a fabulous book to use when talking about inventions, it is also fab for demonstrating that failure is part of the creative process, and failure is OK as long as you don’t quit too soon.

You did it! Hooray! It’s the perfect first try!

The great flop is over. It’s time for the next!”

Young Rosie was baffled, embarrassed, perplexed.

“I Failed,” said dear Rosie. “It’s just made of trash.

Didn’t you see it? the cheese-copter crashed.”

“Yes!” said her great aunt. “It crashed. That is true.

But first it did just what it needed to do.

Before it crashed, Rosie…

before that…

it flew!”

More importantly this is a book that demonstrates that girls CAN do anything! Drawing on the imagery associated with wartime icon Rosie the riveter, the book will be a great launch pad to talk about the roles women played in the Second World War and in the history and development of flight.

Rosie the Riveter


For other books and resources including themed booklists (e.g. immigration, war and conflict), I do recommend the amightygirl.com website – it is a great antidote to the ‘princess in pink’ culture and has an abundance of book and film suggestions aimed at empowering girls. The booklists are helpful for inquiry generally, not just for issues about girls and women.

Bibliographic details:

Rosie Revere, Engineer / Written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts

Published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013

32 pages


NZ RRP $25.99

Buy from good independent booksellers and library suppliers or borrow from Auckland Libraries

Related to: Iggy Peck, Architect

#365PictureBooks Day 4 – The most magnificent thing by Ashley Spires


Another favourite from 2014 – a hit with both kids and teachers. Not only does this fit with several units of inquiry that look at inventions, innovation and creativity, it provides a wonderful glimpse into the attitudes of perseverance and *grit, it can also serve as an antidote to perfectionism showing kids that sometimes ‘just right’ or ‘good enough’ (when you have tried and failed and tweaked and tried some more) is in fact the best outcome to a problem.

“The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.” [Back cover  & publisher]

“For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just “make” her magnificent thing — she “tinkers and hammers and measures,” she “smoothes and wrenches and fiddles,” she “twists and tweaks and fastens.” These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math”. [Publisher website].

Highly recommended!


“The character traits of determination, adaptability and reflection add up to a critical 21st century skill”. Edutopia

Courage and resolve; strength of character.
synonyms: courage, courageousness, bravery, pluck, mettle, mettlesomeness, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, moral fibre,
steel, nerve, gameness, valour, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, determination, resolution; stamina, doggedness, tenacity, perseverance, endurance;
informal: gumption, guts, spunk; bottle; vulgar slang: balls
[Source: Google Definitions]


“The character traits of determination, adaptability and reflection add up to a critical 21st century skill”. Read the series of blog posts on grit (and how to teach it) at Edutopia here.


“For me GRIT conjures up images of ‘kids getting DOWN & DIRTY with ‘intent’ ‘joy’, ‘sparkle’ and ‘passion’, in amongst it all with ‘authentic intent’, ‘creating’ chaos while ‘believing’ and daring’, ‘overcoming’ ‘uncertainty’ with ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘risk-taking’, ‘believing’ they are ‘awesome’ which ‘empowers’ them to continue to ‘learn’ and ‘grow’”.  @kerriattamatea on her blog: Learning my way

Bibliographic details:

The most magnificent thing  /  written and illustrated by Ashley Spires.

Published by Kids Can Press, 2014.

32 pages


NZ RRP: $33.50

Hardcopy available for purchase via Wheelers or borrow from Auckland Libraries. I am also considering purchasing the single user ebook from OverDrive in the “fixed layout with embedded audio” version.

Ashley Spires is the author of the Binky the space cat graphic novels which are really popular in our library – I don’t think they ever sit on the shelves for more than 1/2 day before being checked out again!