Juggling themes of friendship, honesty, and ingenuity, Pearce (The Inside Job) introduces Ellie Bell, a self-described “neighborhood engineer” whose projects include building a water balloon launcher to bombard boys who won’t let her play soccer with them. Throughout, Pearce emphasizes Ellie’s persistence and individuality: Ellie wears her tool belt over a “fluffy and purple” skirt and takes ballet lessons with her best friend Kit, a beauty pageant competitor. After eavesdropping, Ellie concludes that Kit’s mother is planning on giving her a dog for her birthday, which sets the young engineer’s creative wheels in motion. Ellie enlists her friends’ help to build a doghouse, but she doesn’t tell them who else is pitching in, which makes for hurt feelings—one thing Ellie has trouble fixing. Ellie’s less-than-successful creations make for some funny moments ( “It does look like your hair is French braided underneath the knots,” she consoles Kit after a disastrous tryout of a hair-braiding device), and Mourning’s notebook-style images help give a sense of how Ellie’s brain works. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/23/2017 Release date: 01/16/2018 Genre: Children's
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