Is This the Best Picture Book Series in Kidlit History?


rosie revere engineerIggy Peck, Architect

Rosie Revere, Engineer
Ada Twist, Scientist
Written by Andrea Beaty
Illustrated by David Roberts
Published by Abrams

The golden goose in Picture Book World is a successful series, where one book leads to another and another, and over time a library is built up, each title renewing interest in the ones that came before. It’s a dream scenario for publisher and authors alike, providing a steady stream of income and at least a semblance of stability in an uncertain industry.

iggy peck architectThere have been some notable entries into the series arena in the not too distant past: Ian Falconer’s Olivia, Mo Willem’s Pigeon, and Litwin and Dean’s Pete the Cat books, to name very few. And Kinderlit has made no secret of its love for  Maureen Fergus and Carey Sookocheff’s Buddy and Earl series, from Groundwood.

But we’re going to take a bold stand here and declare that, of all picture book series’ we’ve come across, the high water mark is Andrea Beaty and David Roberts’ books chronicling the adventures of the kids in Miss Greer’s class.

ada twist scientistUnlike most series, these don’t feature the same hero through each volume, but rather each kid in the class gets his or her own book, focussed on their own set of gifts and curiosities. It’s a genius conceit.

Started in 2007 with Iggy Peck, Architect, which was followed by Rosie Revere, Engineer in 2013 and 2016’s Ada Twist, Scientist, Beaty and Roberts have wisely eschewed the book-a-year pace that we’re guessing Abrams Books would like, instead respecting the series and giving each child the thought out, impeccable treatment they deserve. Three episodes in and they’ve yet to hit a single bum note, either in the writing or the artwork.

Picture books written in poetry often come off as clumsy or simplistic, but Beaty’s poetry is nuanced, complex and flawless, and Roberts’ artwork captures not only the tone of Beaty’s writing, but also works perfectly with the narratives.

It’s incredibly rare that we find a work with an illustrator who’s not also the author where we can’t even imagine another artist providing the pictures, but the connection that Beaty and Roberts have is uncanny. It’s a perfect marriage.

 

 

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