Ellie, Engineer

by Jackson Pearce, Bloomsbury USA Childrens 2018.

When the boys of the neighborhood exclude the girls from their soccer game, Ellie Engineer and her best friend Kit strike back by building an amazing water balloon launcher and soaking them all. The water balloon launcher is just one of the many engineering ideas that Ellie keeps in a notebook in her tool belt along with her hammer, two screwdrivers, and her prized possession, a mini electric drill. Ellie loves engineering, and all the neighborhood kids are eager to help, but the ins and outs of friendship prove a bit harder to solve than the problems Ellie encounters with a hammer and nails. Nevertheless, Ellie persists and puts her brain to work to solve problems both physical and personal.

I predict that Ellie, Engineer will inspire a generation of tool-carrying, invention-drawing kids in the same way that Harriet the Spy inspired note-scribbling, sneaking kids in my generation. Readers will root for Ellie as she designs solutions to problems and gets herself out of scrapes. Themes include questioning gender roles, friendship, and inventiveness. For teachers looking for strong girls and STEM connections, you’ll find them in this delightful new series.

Ellie, Engineer is the first of Jackson Pearce’s books I’ve read, but I’m now inspired to look for more. You can bet I’ll be waiting expectantly for the next book in the Ellie, Engineer series to come out.

I received a review copy of Ellie, Engineer from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It will be on sale Tuesday, January 16, 2018.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

the-bone-witchSourcebooks Fire, 2017.

Do you know that crushing feeling when you read the first book in a new series and reach the end and you realize that the second book isn’t even published yet, and that you’re going to have to wait? Yeah, that. And let me tell you it’s multiplied when the book you just read is an advance reader copy and that book isn’t even available for three months! On the other hand, you’ve got at least one more book coming to look forward to. That’s what I’ve been telling myself since I finished reading The Bone Witch in December – each month brings me closer to another book about Tea and her life.

In her grief at his death, twelve-year-old Tea actually raises her brother from the grave, surprising and frightening her family. After the unintended feat comes grave illness for Tea until a bone witch, or necromancer, who will be Tea’s mentor, appears to heal her. Soon Tea, her brother, and Lady Mykaela set out from Tea’s village where bone witches are feared and persecuted and travel to the city of Ankyo, the capital of Kion where Asha, including the rare bone witches, are trained.

Told in chapters that alternate between a grown and outcast Tea and the story of her apprenticeship, The Bone Witch is a captivating tale. Though I first felt somewhat disoriented by the dual perspectives in the novel, once I had a handle on the complicated world, I just sunk into the story. I so look forward to reading the upcoming books in the series!

This would make a great classroom book to book talk or begin reading with the class and then allow the kids to read on their own. A great book for fans of Abhorsen by Garth Nix or the Earthsea books by Ursula K. LeGuin. Add this one to your To Read list!


Brightwood by Tania Unsworth

brightwoodAlgonquin Young Readers, 2016.

Daisy Fitzjohn and her mother have everything they need in the mansion that is their home. In fact, Daisy has never been outside the grounds, not even to accompany her mother on her weekly shopping trips. But one Monday morning Daisy wakes to hear her mother leaving in the car, which is puzzling. Wednesday is shopping day, so where could her mother possibly be going? When Daisy’s mother fails to return and when a long lost cousin arrives hoping to develop the property, Daisy will have to use her considerable wit, her intimate knowledge of the house and property, and the help of her friends (a rat, a topiary, a statue, and a ghostly explorer named Frank) to save herself and her home.

Brightwood is a fun and adventurous tale with an admirable, clever, and strong main character and a villain to be reviled. A fun, adventurous read suitable for home, classroom, and library collections.

I received an advance reader copy of Brightwood from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.