With a Netflix show, new book series, museum exhibit and a Thanksgiving parade balloon, Ada Twist is flying high.
A thoughtful girl, chin in hand, caught the eye of author Andrea Beaty as she perused the drawings that her collaborator David Roberts created for their first picture book, Iggy Peck, Architect (2007). That girl, full of questions, got her own book almost a decade later: Ada Twist, Scientist (2016), a breakout bestseller for Abrams. Ada's now got her own Netflix series, which has been renewed for a second season, and a number of additional Ada-adjacent book projects are on the way.
The inquisitive second grader is also reaching new heights—not just figuratively. This Thanksgiving, she’ll join her fellow Abrams character Greg Heffley of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series as a balloon at the 95th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. With a flurry of other Ada-aligned initiatives and activities, it’s shaping up to be a very busy season for the intrepid scientist.
Inspired by groundbreaking women in science, including Marie Curie and mathematician Ada Lovelace, Ada Twist “embodies curiosity,” said Andrew Smith, senior v-p and publisher of Abrams Children’s Books. That defining characteristic has made her an ideal anchor for the publisher’s Questioneers series, which includes Beaty and Roberts's previous books, Iggy Peck, Architect, Rosie Revere, Engineer and Sofia Valdez, Future Prez. Iggy and Rosie appear as Ada’s sidekicks in the Netflix series. With her trusty notebook, Ada is constantly investigating and exploring. Her character demonstrates that “anyone can be a scientist,” Smith said, adding that science begins with curiosity and there’s no fancy equipment required to start. Part of what makes the books so appealing is that they are “joyful, fun and accessible,” he said. “That translates to any medium.”
On November 2, a new Questioneer picture book arrives on the scene—Aaron Slater, Illustrator, about an aspiring storyteller who struggles with reading but finds a way to express himself through drawing. The book is inspired by Roberts’ own experience with dyslexia.
While the series began with STEM-related themes, Smith says the threads tying the books together can be summed up with three ideas: read, question, think. Expanding on the Questioneers picture books and chapter books, Abrams is introducing The Why Files, an Ada-centered early reader series. “We wanted kids who enjoyed the picture books to have somewhere to go,” Smith said. Designed to look like Ada’s notebooks, the books feature art from the Netflix show and contain questions and two experiments that kids can try themselves at home or at school. The first Why Files book, Exploring Flight by author-scientist Dr. Theeann Griffith, debuts on December 14. Concurrently, Ada Twist, Scientist: Brainstorm Book, will be released, an interactive activity book with stickers and pull-out posters.
The Ada momentum will continue next spring with the launch of a seasonal story book series tied to the Netflix series. Ada Twist Scientist: Show Me the Bunny arrives in time for Easter, and additional holiday/seasonal titles are in the works.
Hands-on learning is one of the hallmarks of the series, so this fall the publisher, author and illustrator teamed up with the DuPage Children’s Museum in Beaty’s hometown of Naperville, Ill., on an interactive exhibit called “The Questioneers: Read. Question. Think. Play!,” on view until September 2022 when it will become a traveling exhibition. With activities that allow kids to problem solve and sit in Ada’s “thinking chair” to read, the exhibit allows kids to connect with the characters while applying what they learned in the books.
With all the current excitement about Ada, Abrams and Netflix have partnered with nonprofit First Book to give away 25,000 Ada Twist, Scientist paperbacks to children in under-resourced schools.
“It’s thrilling to see the characters we’ve worked with for so many years come to life on the screen” and in other formats, Smith said. “As Ada is embraced by more kids, we hope they’ll discover the original books.”