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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ellie, Engineer Book Review for National Engineers Week

February 18th - 24th is National Engineers Week and we're celebrating with a review of the book Ellie, Engineer (Bloomsbury Children’s Books; ISBN: 978-1-6811-9519-3; Hardcover $15.99; January 16, 2018). The book is the first in a new series from acclaimed YA (Young Adult/Ages 13-18) and MG (Middle Grade/Ages 8-12) author Jackson Pearce devoted to encouraging tween girls’ interest in STEM.

Ellie loves to build. She’s always engineering new creations with the help of her imagination and her best friend Kit. Unfortunately, with Kit’s birthday just around the corner, the French-braiding machine Ellie built turns out to be more of a hair-knotting machine. What’s Ellie going to do? Luckily, the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about Kit’s surprise – it must be the dog she’s always wanted! Ellie is struck with inspiration: she’ll build Kit the best doghouse ever! The project quickly becomes more than just a present for Kit – it builds a bridge between Ellie and those bothersome neighbor boys, as well as the other handy girls in her class.
Designed to look like Ellie’s notepad, with pencil-on-graph-paper illustrations of her projects interspersed throughout the book, Ellie, Engineer inspires creative and crafty girls to get hands-on with their imagination. Ellie’s projects range from the simple (using a glass against a wall to amplify sounds), to the practical (the doghouse), to the fantastical (a bedroom security system featuring spikes) – encouraging readers to start small but think big. Ellie’s parents support her engineering experiments, with important safety tips sprinkled throughout, and her relationship with Kit is a glowing example of positive female friendship. They share their hobbies – Ellie likes to get her hands dirty, while Kit prefers ballet – reminding readers that there’s no wrong way to be a girl. Ellie’s hand-drawn tool guide at the end explains basic tools in accessible terms, rounding out this fun and funny adventure, and giving girls everything they need to be their own Ellie!

Okay, I have an eleven year old boy so he isn't the perfect audience for the book. With that said, this is a great book for any young man or woman. It breaks the stereotype of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) not being fun for girls to learn. For girls, the book encourages them to have a problem-solving mindset. For boys, the book tries to help them think that STEM-related work isn't just boys. It hits the mark on all points.

Ellie is fond of building -- lots of things with the help of her trusty tool belt. Thanks to her best friend getting a new dog, her latest plan is to build the dog a doghouse. If she wanted to keep things simple, she could do it all herself. But.. that isn't Ellie. Instead, she needs the help of some nearby girls and boys. Besides coordinating the build, she has to deal with getting everyone to work nicely together.

In addition to the positive message that engineering-related work is great for girls, too, the book is full of some fun engineering diagrams from illustrator Tuesday Mourning. They help you visualize the vivid imagination of our protagonist Ellie. And the book ends with a tool guide, in case someone isn't as familiar with some of the tools mentioned.

Great read all around. I'd encourage getting the book for every young girl. I'd also encourage getting it for boys, too. If both aren't exposed to these more positive technical images of young women, neither will understand their full potential in the long run.
About the Author

Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of a series of teen retold fairy-tales, including Sisters Red, Sweetly, Fathomless, and Cold Spell, as well as two stand-alones, As You Wish and Purity. As J. Nelle Patrick, she is the author of Tsarina. In addition to The Doublecross and The Inside Job, her middle grade novels include Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, co-written with Maggie Stiefvater. Visit her at and @JacksonPearce (Twitter and Instagram).


We're running a giveaway in a second post. The winner will receive a copy of Ellie, Engineer and a custom DIY Ellie-branded toolbox, designed to be easily assembled Ellie-style, as well as some simple tools and an instruction booklet! Check it out.

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received. All opinions stated are my own and may differ from yours. See my disclosure policy for more information.


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