A pint-sized scientist with a giant-sized curiosity is making the leap from bestselling books to the TV screen this fall. Based on the Ada Twist, Scientist series written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts (Abrams), the new Netflix animated series Ada Twist, Scientist, from Chris Nee (Doc McStuffins), Higher Ground Productions (the production company of Barack and Michelle Obama), and Mark Burton of Wonder Worldwide, launches on September 28.
Ada Twist, Scientist follows the adventures of Black eight-year-old Ada Twist, who aspires to discover the truth about everything. Ada and her two best friends, Rosie Revere and Iggy Peck, unravel and solve mysteries for friends and family. The show is based on the Questioneers picture book series, which includes Ada Twist, Scientist; the books’ success led to a spinoff chapter book series also under the Questioneers umbrella. Altogether, the franchise has sold more than four million copies.
“The first time I saw a clip of the animated kids singing, I could not stop myself from yelling, ‘They’re alive!’ I might also have danced around the kitchen, too,” Beaty told PW. “It’s a surreal hoot! Those kids can really sing!”
To Beaty, the show feels like a natural extension of the book creation process. “It adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts,” she said, “because everyone involved really loves this kid and her world and it shines through. When so many amazingly talented people work together like that, it’s great goodness!”
The show celebrates subjects such as STEM education and scientific discovery, and each 26-minute episode ends with a live-action aspect that features an actual scientist. “I’ve always described the book as an exploration of curiosity,” Beaty said. “The TV show includes themes of persistence, passion, and bravery, and mixes them with a big dollop of kindness and acceptance of others. I also love the family dynamic in the show. It’s tender but very playful and full of love. The songs are catchy. And there’s science—lots of science!”
Abrams plans to launch a tie-in publishing program on December 14, with The Why Files #1: Exploring Flight!, first in a full-color nonfiction early reader series cowritten by Beaty and neuroscientist Dr. Theanne Griffith. Also publishing on December 14 is an activity book, Ada Twist, Scientist: Brainstorm Book; and Ada Twist, Scientist: Show Me the Bunny, an Easter storybook based on a forthcoming episode set for February 2022.
“We’re excited for families who might be discovering Ada Twist, Scientist for the first time via Netflix to also discover the bestselling classic books,” Andrew Smith, senior v-p and publisher of children’s books at Abrams, said in a statement. Smith also expressed excitement over partnering with Netflix for the show. “Netflix has been an outstanding partner and we’re so excited to introduce the tie-in program once the show has had some time to build an audience and brand-new fans.”
The next Questioneers picture book in the series, Aaron Slater, Illustrator, is due out in November, about a boy with dyslexia who struggles to learn to read but who finds his voice through art. It was inspired by illustrator Roberts’ own struggles with reading. “The beauty David has poured into this book both breaks and mends my heart on every page,” Beaty told PW.
Ada Twist, Scientist aims to change people’s views and what they associate with scientists. As for what Beaty wishes the show instills in viewers, “I hope kids will take away the knowledge that they are wonderful just being their own awesome selves.”