Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book Review: Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce

What a great middle grade read! Ellie wants to be an engineer and in fact, already thinks she is one. She has her own tool belt, which she straps on over her skirt, and gets to work building things. Mostly she builds with her best friend, Kit, and they start off by building a giant slingshot to shoot water balloons in a group of boys in another yard. Ellie makes sure to write detailed explanations of all her projects (and whether or not they were successful) in her notebook (illustrations included in the book).

Kit invents an amazing hair braiding machine for Kit's birthday and they decide to try it out even though it's a week before her actual birthday. And it's a huge disaster. Kit doesn't end up getting any hair cut off, but adults reading the book will all know how close a call that was. Despondent that her gift is a bust, and with not much time left, Ellie comes up with a new idea. She and Kit overheard that Kit is getting a dog from her parents, so Ellie decides to build the best doghouse ever. And because she's got so little time, she needs help. She first enlists one of the neighborhood boys, and then she also gets help from a group of crafty girls for the interior.

But the boys and girls in her neighborhood don't get along. So she isn't exactly honest about each's involvement with the others. When they find out, they're all mad at Ellie, and all abandon her. But in the end, they pull together to give Kit the most amazing present of all time!

My favorite part of the book is when Ellie says that, as her father says, there aren't "boy things" and "girl things." There are "Ellie things" and "Kit things." As someone who used to do shipping & receiving with long, painted nails, in a mini skirt, I will testify that one can both dress like a girl, and yet do more a traditionally masculine job. This is a great book for STEM programs, for crafty girls who might spill into more building-engineering projects, and heck, boys should read about girls interesting in building things, too.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Macmillan, my employer.

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