Primary Genre(s): Middle Grade, Fiction
Published: 16 Jan 2018 by Bloomsbury USA
Page count: 192
My Format: ebook via Overdrive
Would I recommend it: Yes
Commission Link: Buy Ellie, Engineer
My rating: ★★★★☆
The hilarious and smart start of a series about a girl who loves to build—STEM-powered, creative fun for girls.
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?
Illustrated with Ellie’s sketches and plans, and including backmatter with how-tos, this is full of engineering fun!
If you have been paying attention to my reviews lately you will note that I am on a bit of a STEM kick. I wish books like this existed when I was younger, or if they did, I wish I had known about them! Reviewing all of the STEM books I find is my own little attempt at getting the word out there that these books exist! Here are my pros and cons for Ellie, Engineer:
- I liked the detail in the book. I enjoyed how Ellie talked about her tools and how to use them. I also liked that Ellie knew she was not allowed to use certain tools without adult supervision.
- I enjoyed Ellie’s “engineering” sketches. The illustrations in the book were super cute.
- Guess how many times I’ve heard this joke in my life since I’m an engineer? Too many to count! But it was cute to come across it in this book.
“I’m an engineer,” Ellie explained.
“Isn’t that the person who drives the train?” Dylan asked.
“That’s a different sort of engineer,” Ellie said.
- I loved Ellie’s ability to be innovative and to use unusual materials to solve her engineering challenges.
- I loved that Ellie understood that mistakes weren’t failures, but instead learning opportunities.
- I think the interaction between the neighborhood kids was spot on for the age group.
- I liked the emphasis that engineering is for anyone – even a girl in a dress with a tool-belt!
- I am excited that this book is part of a series!!! There are two other books available and I can’t wait to get my hands on them!
- The girls in the story got upset that the boys wouldn’t let them play soccer with them. But then later in the story, Ellie told the boys they couldn’t help with her doghouse project. She didn’t want the boys to help because she felt the boys would be difficult to work with. Ellie felt very justified in excluding the boys, but didn’t think they had a good reason for excluding the girls from soccer. One of my biggest pet peeves in books in general, but particularly STEM books, is when one group of people gets upset about not being included in something, but then turns around and excludes others themselves!! A big reason these books exist is to get kids, and girls in particular, interested in the STEM fields. You shouldn’t generate interest in something like STEM for girls by allowing girls to denigrate boys… and vice versa. Thankfully, in this story, the girls and boys did come together at the end, but just once I’d love to read a story where the exclusions do not occur in the first place.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be something science or math-related when I “grew up”. I remember setting up a “science lab” with a neighbor boy and performing experiments on rocks and leaves and grass and noting our findings. I recall getting a microscope as a kid and investigating every small thing I could think of! I remember wanting to be an astronaut at one time and I actually looked into majoring in aerospace engineering for a while. I finally settled on civil/environmental engineering and I have been working in that field ever since. What I cannot remember is ever reading a STEM-related book when I was younger. I obviously went the STEM direction anyway… but I really think I’d have loved reading stories about girls like me when I was younger.
Not every girl wants to enter a STEM-related field… and that is okay. Not every boy wants to be in a STEM field either! However, if you do have an inquisitive child – girl or boy – who shows interest in math, science, engineering, or technology, introduce them to STEM books! They are out there and I am on a quest to find and read them all! Ellie, Engineer is a good start.
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(image from Goodreads)