Ellie Engle Saves Herself
From award-winning author Leah Johnson comes a laugh-until-you-cry, cry-until-you-laugh story about friendship, change, and the power we have to love ourselves. Ellie Engle doesn't stand out. Not at home, where she's alone with her pet fish since her dad moved away and her mom has to work around the clock . Not at the bakery, where she helps out old Mr. Walker on the weekends. And definitely not at school, where her best friend Abby—the coolest, boldest, most talented girl in the world—drags Ellie along on her never-ending quest to "make her mark." To someone else, a life in the shadows might seem boring, or lonely. But not to Ellie. As long as she has Abby by her side and a comic book in her hand, she's quite content. Too bad life didn't bother checking in with Ellie. Because when a freak earthquake hits her small town, Ellie wakes up with the power to bring anything back to life with just her touch. And when a video of her using her powers suddenly goes viral, Ellie's life goes somewhere she never imagined—or wanted: straight into the spotlight. Surviving middle school is hard enough. Surviving middle school when paparazzi are camped out on your front lawn and an international pop singer wants you to use your powers on live tv and you might be in love with your best friend but she doesn't know it? Absolutely impossible.
Comic book enthusiast Ellie Engle, who is Black, sees herself as the epitome of ordinary, and she's content to dwell in the pressure-free shadow of her outgoing Latina best friend, Abby Ortega. But after an earthquake strikes Plainsboro, Ind., the day the girls start junior high, Ellie realizes she has a crush on Abby, and she also somehow manages to resurrect her own dead pet fish. Slowly, Ellie discovers that she can bring living organisms back to life, for a cost. Ellie, who sometimes experiences panic attacks, doesn't want to cause trouble for her hardworking single mom, and she worries about how the powers of the supers in her comics affect their loved ones. But when popularity-intent Abby pressures Ellie to mask and even reverse her powers, Ellie is reluctant to let them go—even as knowledge of her abilities goes viral, leaving her no choice but to stand on her own two feet. Marrying her customary openhearted style with a necromancy-oriented origin story, Johnson (You Should See Me in a Crown) tackles the pains of growing up—changing bodies, shifting bonds, early crushes, and defining oneself on one's own terms—making for a warmly rendered, lightly speculative love story about a girl learning to believe that she's anything but ordinary. Ages 8–12.