ELLIE, ENGINEER, by Jackson Pearce, Bloomsbury USA Childrens, Jan. 16, 2018, Hardcover, $15.99 (ages 8-12)
The idea of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) has been around for a while, and there are already some great books available — Ada Twist, Scientist; The Most Magnificent Thing; Rosie Revere, Engineer; The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate; Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World; and Finding Wonders to name just a few. Add to that American Girl’s new Luciana character and Jackson Pearce’s great new series featuring Ellie Bell, a budding engineer, and it looks like 2018 is going to be a great year for STEM.
Ellie, Engineer opens with Ellie doing what she does best, designing and building a project to solve a problem. In this case it’s the Water Empress — a water balloon launcher Ellie and her friend Kit plan to use to get back at the neighbor boys for not letting girls play soccer.
Engineering such a creation isn’t hard when you’re prepared, and Ellie is prepared. She has an amazing backyard workshop and plenty of tools at her disposal. And while not all of her inventions work exactly the way she plans, The Water Empress has exactly the desired effect Ellie and Kit were going for.
Ellie can’t imagine making things without Kit, but as Kit’s birthday approaches, Ellie fears she’ll have to go this one alone. When the girls overhear Kit’s mom talking about her present — the dog Kit always wanted — Ellie knows exactly what to make. Sometimes, though, Ellie’s ideas get away from her. Soon her plans for an amazing doghouse are so elaborate she has to get help from everyone but Kit. It’s Ellie’s biggest plan to date, and it’s going to take more than engineering to get it done in time and keep it a secret.
From the cover to the last page of Ellie Engineer, there’s no doubt that this is a STEM book. Illustrated sketches and plans are sprinkled throughout, and a how-to guide of Ellie’s favorite tools is included at the end.
What makes all the math and engineering come together, though, is how Pearce presents it. The book is about engineering because it’s Ellie’s passion. She loves creating. Her friends love creating, too, in different ways. It’s when the arts combine with STEM that Ellie Engineer really shines. The book is a fast, enjoyable read that will appeal to both boys and girls.
© 2018, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved.