I approached this book with mixed feelings, but was quickly enchanted by this fun-loving kid who loves to invent and build.
In the opening pages of this chapter book, we meet Ellie and her best friend, Kit. They are deeply absorbed in building a large water balloon launcher out of broomsticks, exercise bands, and Ellie’s dad’s funnel (let’s hope the holes Ellie drills in the funnel don’t prevent him from changing his oil!).
While the invention itself is cool, I adored the reason WHY Ellie needed to build a giant water balloon launcher. The neighborhood boys are playing soccer a few backyards over, but when Ellie asked to join, they told her that only boys were allowed to play. So Ellie created the Water Empress to shoot water balloons across a few backyards at them.
Hey boys! Girls just wanna have fun, too!
Ellie runs into a problem when she discovers that the birthday present she is making for Kit doesn’t work. She only has a few days to come up with a new invention and build it without Kit noticing! After deciding on the perfect present, she researches designs and then gets to work.
The boys-versus-girls opening sequence remains a theme throughout the book; however, Ellie befriends one of the soccer-playing boys and agrees to let him join her in the research and development phases of her work. Trouble starts when Ellie’s need to keep the present a secret from Kit makes Kit start feeling left out!
I was delighted to discover that Ellie isn’t just a one-sided character (which was the root of my apprehension as I began the book). She isn’t simply a tool to create a STEM book, but a girl with wide-ranging interests and personality traits.
As I read Ellie, Engineer to my six-year-old daughter, Ellie reminded me of my daughter. My daughter asked Santa for a pink toolbox she saw at Lowe’s one day last fall, and she kept talking about that toolbox until it arrived Christmas morning. She has used the pink hammer to decorate her room, the screwdrivers to replace batteries in her toys, and has worn the tool apron around the house.
Like my daughter almost any day of the week, when we first meet Ellie, she is wearing a fluffy skirt. And, like my daughter, that skirt doesn’t stop Ellie from any of her activities—whether working with her hammer and cordless drill or doing cartwheels and rolling down hills.
I highly recommend Ellie, Engineer for your boys and girls. It is fun to read, and informative (we even get a lesson on flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers). I am grateful to have received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
Jackson Pearce is the author of middle grade books such as Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures and The Doublecross and Other Skills I Learned as a Superspy and the young adult Retold Fairytale series. Check out her books at www.jackson-pearce.com!
Have you read any great books lately?