- Age Range: 5 - 7 years
- Grade Level: Kindergarten - 2
- Lexile Measure: AD550L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (September 6, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1419721372
- ISBN-13: 978-1419721373
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.5 x 11.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 581 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ada Twist, Scientist Hardcover – September 6, 2016
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From School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—Ada Marie Twist is an inquisitive African American second grader and a born scientist. She possesses a keen yet peculiar need to question everything she encounters, whether it be a tick-tocking clock, a pointy-stemmed rose, or the hairs in her dad's nose. Ada's parents and her teacher, Miss Greer, have their hands full as the child's science experiments wreak day-to-day havoc. On the first day of spring, the title character is tinkering outside her home when she notices an unpleasant odor. She sets out to discover what might have caused it. Beaty shows Ada using the scientific method in developing hypotheses in her smelly pursuit. The little girl demonstrates trial and error in her endeavors, while appreciating her family's full support. In one experiment, she douses fragrances on her cat and then attempts to place the feline in the washing machine. Her parents, startled by her actions, send her to the Thinking Chair, where she starts to reflect on the art of questioning by writing her thoughts on the wall—now the Great Thinking Hall. Ada shines on each page as a young scientist, like her cohorts in the author's charming series. The rhyming text playfully complements the cartoon illustrations, drawing readers into the narrative. VERDICT A winner for storytime reading and for young children interested in STEM activities. Pair with science nonfiction for an interesting elementary cross-curricular project.—Krista Welz, North Bergen High School, NJ
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We learn that Ada's parents think she is slow because she doesn't talk until age 3. When she finally talks it doesn't show them happy about her talking but exasperated and exhausted with her constant questions. Then it describes her asking questions but refers to it as "her chaos" and things being "in her wake" "wreaked havoc" like she is a destructive force. The pictures show Ada making messes in her quest for discovery and then the parents put her in time-out. The time-out scene is the climax of the book and the most intense and my child doesn't really understand it beyond thinking it's scary or sad. I'll break it down why it bothers me.
Ada tries to find a smell and then wash the cat. She is shown putting the cat towards the washing machine and the parents stop her and say "enough with your questions" and send her to the "thinking chair". Ada is confused. She tries to explain or understand what is happening. "But," she says and her mother cuts her off shouting "NO." "Why," she starts to ask and her father shouts "GO."
So then there's a scene of tiny Ada alone and sad on an empty two page spread, "her heart turned to goo" and she once more loses her words, which just crushes me to read each time. As a young African American girl her words and ability to speak out are her power and she just lost them (the book does not show her talking again after this page. Adults can assume but my child thinks she permanently can't talk after her parents yell at her). Then she starts thinking again and draws on the walls. The parents come back to talk and they see the wall and say to each other "we'll figure it out." So... There's no scene or explanation of the parents apologizing for how they acted when they were clearly in the wrong. There's no hugs or anything. My kid keeps taking away a totally different message that that which the author intended. She gets fixated on "Ada made a mess and that's bad" or "Ada is bad" or "Why are the mommy and daddy not listening to her" and try as I might to keep guiding her towards "scientists ask questions and that is good" that's totally not what my kid understands from the text's tone, the narrative, and pictures.
When you're making a book about a black child you have to be really careful to steer around negative stereotypes people have. The author probably thought, this is great,I I'm making a book about a black girl! But you have to think it out one step further because black children are so woefully underrepresented in media and literature and there is so much systemic racism in our kids' lives. We need to be careful how children are depicted in literature because when it's a child of a minority images and words have power to confirm negative stereotypes and prejudice in a way that they do not with images of a white child. Imagine a book about a child with "crazy messy hair." You might think it's no biggie to have the book be about a child of color but because hair differences are historically sensitive, you really shouldn't go there because you will be causing hurt feelings and reinforcing a negative stereotype. Right? Would the book "No, David" be appropriate with a non-white kid? No way, it would come off more like "the ___ boy in the class is a bad boy" etc. which is already a stereotype even with three year olds at preschool. Still following me? We have to be a little bit more careful to avoid biases and stereotypes when the book is about a racial minority child.
I am deeply disappointed that the books about the two white kids are positive and now we have a beautiful intelligent little black girl.... whose story does not celebrate her as a positive kid with qualities that her aren't are shown SMILING about and loving. The pictures show her parents: worrying that she won't speak and trying to teach her, uncomfortable with her questions, tired of her questions, angry at her and shouting, surprised at the wall, and then reading. That's it. It only shows her teacher doing one thing: freaking out when Ada does an experiment. It only shows her big brother tattling on her or being angry, then reading with the parents. There is one time in which Ada's science makes someone happy: she does Mentos in soda at school and "her chaos wreaked havoc at school" freaking out her teacher. All of the kids in the class are cheering and Ada looks super happy. But it kind of looks like science means you get in trouble at school. I just hear myself going hmmmm.
I just really feel weird about this book. It doesn't seem like it's really encouraging the child reading it to ask questions, it kind of seems more like it's a book about "don't bug your parents and don't make a mess" for a child. To us adults, the subtlety of the story makes sense and we can take away from it the message of accepting the child's questioning and mess making in the name of science. I feel that adults can take away more from this book than children, in thinking about how to parent, valuing people and relationships over objects (don't destroy your kid's heart because they made a mess or ask 5 million questions).
I don't think the author intended this result at ALL, but here it is. I'm disappointed.
My kids favorite part (other than her great escape at 3) is the part where she starts to put the cat in the washer to freshen it up because it stinks. LOL... _hilarious_ in how wrong they know that is! & how much THEY'D like to try it out to see what would happen.....what kind of reaction will THEIR parents have?! Mmmhmmm.
Ada's parents are calm and while they discuss what should be done, Ada's natural curiosity gets her into another mess. I liked how throughout the book, her family allowed her the freedom to be true to interests and kept calm and found creative ways to honor her intense personality that worked for them all.
Ada Twist is a precocious, curious youngster that tests the limits of her parent's patience with her experimentations and formulations.
As a parent of a similarly curious child it shows that all children can't be placed in a box with how they learn, grow, play or discover. As a parent, I need to open the world for my child, not close the world around her to conform to my view of it. Expand my thinking. I was very encouraged with the parent's reaction to their daughter.
My daughter loves this little girl with her safety goggles and beakers and scales and experiments. She loves how she engages the classmates to experiment and discover things themselves. She loves that this little girl was asking "Why?" and "How?" and then tried to find the answer.
Rosie Revere had a calling to be an engineer like her great-aunt Rosie The Riveter; Ada Twist has a calling to keep searching for the answers to questions and encourage others to do the same.
The sing-song nature of the rhyme makes it easy to plow through if you're on "Just one more..." for the fourth time, but the pictures and story also lend themselves to a leisurely reading session filled with tons questions from the little one.
Asking questing is key to the story, and I've found myself having to discuss and sometimes explain all sorts of topics mid reading, everything from "why do we have to flip the page" to "why is the cat looking at Ada?" brings about a different world.
Highly recommend this book, as well as Rosie Revere, Engineer which is also part of the series (and rosie even makes an appearance in the drawings of Ms. Greer's classroom! Great for boys and girls who have an inquiring mind.