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The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer

The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer

Illustrated by Daniel Duncan


The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer

About the Book

This true story of a woman whose brilliance and mechanical expertise helped Britain win World War II is sure to inspire STEM readers and fans of amazing women in history.

Beatrice Shilling wasn’t quite like other children. She could make anything. She could fix anything. And when she took a thing apart, she put it back together better than before.

When Beatrice left home to study engineering, she knew that as a girl she wouldn’t be quite like the other engineers—and she wasn’t. She was better. Still, it took hard work and perseverance to persuade the Royal Aircraft Establishment to give her a chance. But when World War II broke out and British fighter pilots took to the skies in a desperate struggle for survival against Hitler’s bombers, it was clearly time for new ideas. Could Beatrice solve an engine puzzle and help Britain win the war? American author Mara Rockliff and British illustrator Daniel Duncan team up for a fresh look at a turning point in modern history—and the role of a remarkable woman whose ingenuity, persistence, and way with a wrench (or spanner) made her quite unlike anyone else. An author’s note and a list of selective sources provide additional information for curious readers.

Product Details

On sale: September 28, 2021
Age: 5-9 years
Grade: Grades K-4
Page count: 48 Pages
ISBN: 9781536212525
Reading level: Fountas/Pinnell: R

Author Bio

Mara Rockliff is the author of many books for children, including the Orbis Pictus Honor Book Mesmerized and Anything But Ordinary Addie, both illustrated by Iacapo Bruno; Around America to Win the Vote, illustrated by Hadley Hooper; Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope, illustrated by Zosia Dzierzawska; Jefferson Measures a Moose, illustrated by S. D. Schindler; Chik Chak Shabbat, illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker; and Me and Momma and Big John, illustrated by William Low, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book and Golden Kite Award winner. She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with her family.

Daniel Duncan is the author-illustrator of the picture book South and the illustrator of Mr. Posey’s New Glasses by Ted Kooser and The Purple Puffy Coat by Maribeth Boelts, among other books for children. Daniel Duncan lives outside London.


This entertaining picture-book biography chronicles her life from childhood through school and apprenticeships, marriage, the war, and the rest of her illustrious career. . . . This enjoyable tale works equally well as a read-aloud and a strong addition to Women in STEM collections.

Rockliff’s text flows with breezy excitement over the technical development and with a wry humor directed at the male engineering community, a style ably supported by the visual nudging and teasing of Duncan’s digital artwork.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

This engaging and inspiring read owes a lot of its appeal to Duncan’s charming illustrations, featuring a determined, likable heroine. Author Rockliff has created a book that is simple enough for kindergarteners to enjoy while still being interesting for third and fourth graders—no easy feat. . . . A delightful and welcome addition to STEM collections everywhere.
—School Library Journal

This accessible, tongue-in-cheek depiction of Shilling’s life and achievements hits all the right notes and shows a woman flourishing in STEM, the importance of powering through adversity, ways in which science and curiosity can be applied, as well as how women have supported each other to learn and succeed. Duncan’s fine-lined illustrations include characters of color among the largely White cast of background characters. . . . An appealing biography that will inspire young scientists and those who may quietly rebel against the status quo.
—Kirkus Reviews

Lively and succinct. . . The expressive illustrations convey time and place beautifully and are infused variously with humor (such as when apprentice-engineer Beatrice, helping to bring electricity to villages, falls through a ceiling) and drama (as in a stunning double-page spread of London aflame during the Blitz).
—The Horn Book

The humorous, full-page illustrations in this book depict what life was like for Beatrice as the only female in a traditionally male-dominated career. Her story serves as a good role model for young readers to pursue their dreams and talents. This would be a wonderful book to read aloud to young readers to encourage their interests in engineering and to pique their curiosity on researching some of the problems Beatrice solved.
—School Library Connection

Shilling’s is a fantastic story, engagingly told, and perfectly complemented by Duncan’s illustrations.
—Air & Space Magazine