Ellie attempts a new project and accidentally makes a big mess. As punishment, her parents have Ellie help their elderly neighbor, Mrs. Curran. Ellie and her friends, Kit, and Toby, are supposed to help with little things like stuffing envelopes. However, when Ellie sees things around the house that need fixing, she puts her engineering skills to work.
Mrs. Curran assumes that Toby is responsible for fixing things around the house, even though they are Ellie’s ideas. Ellie wants to prove to Mrs. Curran that girls can do anything, even be engineers. How can Ellie use her engineering knowledge to change Mrs. Curran’s assumptions about engineers?
Ellie, Engineer focuses on showing that girls can be smart and creative, but it also examines other stereotypes. Ellie makes many assumptions about “grandma-age people.” However, as she gets to know Mrs. Curran, she learns that those assumptions are incorrect. Through Ellie’s experiences, the theme becomes clear—making assumptions about others is wrong. Boys can play with dolls. Girls can be engineers. Not all old people are the same. Even though the story focuses on Mrs. Curran and her assumptions, she is not well-developed. However, in the end, Mrs. Curran’s perception changes, both about others as well as herself. The ending has a cute surprise that readers will enjoy.
Ellie, Engineer is a fun story about friendship and has the added benefit of teaching important lessons. Even though Toby acts like a know-it-all, Ellie realizes that “It didn’t seem right to be friends with Toby but still call him a name behind his back.” The story also reinforces the importance of asking permission before using someone else’s things.
Although the story’s plot is easy to understand, there is very little action that propels the plot forward. The first chapter starts out strong, with Ellie and her friends having an engineering disaster; however, after the first incident, the three friends do not discuss how to make the invention better. Instead, they seem to build a working elevator without much planning.
The story contains some fun illustrations of Ellie’s sketches; however, the story is text-heavy, which might make the story daunting for some readers. The story’s plot is easy to understand and would be engaging for elementary readers. Ellie, Engineer’s vocabulary isn’t difficult, but the sentence structure is complex. Strong female characters, important life lessons, and positive adult interactions make Ellie, Engineer a story worth reading. Ellie, Engineer would be an excellent choice for more advanced readers or to read aloud with a parent.
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