Gift the JOY of Play…
By Andrea Beaty, Author
I use a lot of Post-it notes. They remind me of things I need to do. But that’s not all they remind me of. Post-it notes remind me of happy accidents. That’s because the adhesive that lets us stick and re-stick Post-its was invented by accident in 1968!
A scientist named Spencer Silver was trying to make a strong adhesive and one of his batches flopped. As Rosie Revere would say, “it was a fabulous flop.” The glue was not very strong. It was just sticky enough to let him remove and re-stick things. Zoom forward to 1974 and a guy named Arthur Fry added the glue to little sheets of paper and Voila! The Post-it note was born.
Happy Accidents are not just part of science. I sometimes experience them when I’m writing. It sounds strange, but when I’m writing a book, I don’t always know what’s going to happen. I figure it out as I go.
A weird, random word that jumps into my head by accident can take my story in a completely new direction. This happened in Iggy Peck, Architect. I was writing along and got stuck. I knew that Iggy Peck was going to build something, but what? Would he build a house? A school? A tower? And why would he need to build it?
I spent a long time trying to figure that out and was getting nowhere when I accidentally started thinking about bridges. I looked up synonyms for a bridge and found trestle. My rhyme was complete:
They crossed a small trestle
to a small island nestled
in the heart of a burbling stream.
But they no sooner passed than the footbridge collapsed
and Miss Lila Greer started to scream!
Suddenly, I knew exactly what Iggy had to do. Thinking about a bridge made me come up with a whole plot for my story!
I’m glad it did. After I wrote Iggy Peck, Architect, illustrator David Roberts created Miss Greer’s beautiful class of second graders. David’s illustrations inspired me to write about some of the other kids in the class like Ada Twist, Rosie Revere, Sofia Valdez, and Aaron Slater!
These characters have had some amazing adventures. One of my favorite of all, is the marvelous exhibit at the DuPage Children’s Museum, The Questioneers: Read. Question. Think. PLAY! I hope you love it as much as I do. It makes me very happy. And that’s no accident at all!
Andrea Beaty is the author of many beloved children’s books, including the bestselling Questioneers series; Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies; Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau; and One Girl. Her books empower young readers to think critically about the world, encouraging them to help others and tackle big problems. She is an advocate for STEAM and her books have been read around the globe and in space on board the International Space Station. She lives just outside Chicago.