Book Review: Ellie Engineer by Jackson Pearce

Ellie Engineer is a middle grade novel by Jackson Pearce, and is the first book in a new series about a girl who loves to build. Ellie is an engineer. With a tool belt strapped over her favorite skirt (who says you can’t wear a dress and have two kinds of screwdrivers handy, just in case?), she invents and builds amazing creations in her backyard workshop. Together with her best friend Kit, Ellie can make anything. As Kit’s birthday nears, Ellie doesn’t know what gift to make until the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about her present—the dog Kit always wanted! Ellie plans to make an amazing doghouse, but her plans grow so elaborate that she has to enlist help from the neighbor boys and crafty girls, even though the two groups don’t get along. Will Ellie be able to pull off her biggest project yet?

Ellie Engineer is a wonderful story about friendship and being yourself. It also covers the changes in friend groups and friendship dynamics in those in between years when boys and girls tend to separate. Ellie and Kit are different, but they are still best friends with a love of building. When things are not going according to plan Ellie needs to adjust, and keeping her doghouse a secret from Kit- and getting help from those she does not ordinarily spend time with during the summer, leads to a series of problems. I liked Ellie's flexibility ith her projects, and how she gets things done, and I sympathized with her attempts to keep everyone happy, when she should have just been honest with everyone from the beginning. I think young readers will relate to at least one character in the story, even if it is not Ellie. Some might connect with Kit feeling left out, or those helping Ellie but being kept a secret from each other. I love that the book includes information about the tools Ellie uses in the story, and those that readers might get access to, and permission to use. The how-tos and information just might get readers making their own inventions, and testing or repairing gadgets of their own.

Ellie Engineer is a fun middle grade read that encourages friendship and ingenuity outside the normal limits most kids feel constrained by. I found the emotion and social queues to be on point, and I loved the message of the story. 

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