Ellie Engle Saves Herself

Ellie Engle Saves Herself

by Leah Johnson

Narrated by Rocky Anicette

Unabridged — 6 hours, 16 minutes

Ellie Engle Saves Herself

Ellie Engle Saves Herself

by Leah Johnson

Narrated by Rocky Anicette

Unabridged — 6 hours, 16 minutes

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Overview

Notes From Your Bookseller

This heartwarming and laugh-out-loud story about a young girl who is gifted with supernatural abilities after a freak earthquake is the perfect read for anyone who’s ever wanted to fit in when they were born to stand out.

From award-winning YA author Leah Johnson comes her middle grade debut: 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.


Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 03/20/2023

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. Agent: Patrice Caldwell, New Leaf Literary. (May)

From the Publisher

*starred review*
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. Agent: Patrice Caldwell, New Leaf Literary. (May)- PW (Mar 16, 2023)

*starred review*
A seventh grader doing her best to navigate middle school, a secret crush, and new family dynamics wakes up with a life-altering superpower. Elliot “Ellie” Engle, a 12-year-old Black girl, has always been fine fading into the background with her comic books. Best friend Abby Ortega, who is cued as Latine, always seems to have the spotlight. Following an earthquake during a sleepover at Abby’s house, Ellie wakes up feeling weird. She returns home to find her beloved pet, Burt the Betta Fish, has died. While giving his eulogy, Ellie touches Burt, and, to her disbelief, he bounces back to life. Superhero-loving Ellie’s first thought is to keep her new abilities a secret or risk being shipped off to some institution like the X-Men’s Xavier Institute. But she tells Abby—incidentally her crush and therefore the object of her other big secret. Together, they attempt to test her powers, until an unfortunate incident on frog dissection day in science class throws Ellie’s life into a tailspin. Ellie must come to terms with hard truths, but along the way she learns she doesn’t have to live her life in the shadow of others and that true friends will support you through everything. This fast-paced, humorous novel will have readers racing to the end as they fall in love with Ellie’s quirky and authentic personality. Johnson deftly explores identity and responsibility to ourselves and others in this joyful coming-of-age story. Marvelous. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)- Kirkus (Apr 1, 2023)

*starred review*
At first, Ellie Engle’s world is relatively simple. She is an avid comic book fan, and she has one friend, Abby, who is bold, fashionable, and, unlike Ellie, constantly in the spotlight. Ellie is fine with the simplicity of her life, and in fact, she prefers it. When an earthquake shakes her town for the first time in decades, it also shakes up Ellie's life: she's surprised to find that she wakes up with the power to bring dead things back to life. Ellie is immediately overwhelmed with her new powers. She was already beginning to struggle with the prospect of starting junior high, her developing feelings for her best friend, and the stress of helping her single mom, who is barely making ends meet. Now, she finds herself having to come to terms with the reality of being a bona fide superhero—and the spotlight, which she never wanted, that comes with it. This delightful, magical middle-grade debut from young adult author Johnson (Rise to the Sun, 2021) excellently harnesses the anxiety that is prevalent throughout the junior-high years. Ellie’s magic serves as a metaphor that carves out a space for uncovering and awakening her identity as a young queer Black girl. Strongly recommended for all collections. — Nashae Jones- Booklist (Feb 15, 2023)

School Library Journal

★ 09/29/2023

Gr 4–8—Twelve-year-old Ellie Engle is preparing to start junior high, and wondering what to do with the fluttery feelings she has for Abby, who has been the center of her universe as long as they've been friends. But when a random earthquake leaves Ellie with superpowers (including the ability to resurrect the dead), Ellie finds herself with bigger worries. Add to that her mom's struggles to pay the bills in the wake of a divorce, and Abby's determination to "make her mark" in their new school at all costs—including, perhaps, their friendship—and Ellie's whole world is turned upside down. Things get even worse when a viral video exposes her newfound powers and thrusts her into the spotlight. In lesser hands, these many plot threads might become tangled, but Johnson masterfully weaves them together to explore themes of belonging, identity, responsibility, friendship, heroism, and growing up. Ellie's voice is honest, warm, and sharply funny, and readers will enthusiastically root for her as she learns to love and celebrate herself for all that she is. Ellie is Black and Abby is Latina. VERDICT Joyful and magical. A first purchase for all collections.—Lauren Strohecker

Kirkus Reviews

★ 2023-03-14
A seventh grader doing her best to navigate middle school, a secret crush, and new family dynamics wakes up with a life-altering superpower.

Elliot “Ellie” Engle, a 12-year-old Black girl, has always been fine fading into the background with her comic books. Best friend Abby Ortega, who is cued as Latine, always seems to have the spotlight. Following an earthquake during a sleepover at Abby’s house, Ellie wakes up feeling weird. She returns home to find her beloved pet, Burt the Betta Fish, has died. While giving his eulogy, Ellie touches Burt, and, to her disbelief, he bounces back to life. Superhero-loving Ellie’s first thought is to keep her new abilities a secret or risk being shipped off to some institution like the X-Men’s Xavier Institute. But she tells Abby—incidentally her crush and therefore the object of her other big secret. Together, they attempt to test her powers, until an unfortunate incident on frog dissection day in science class throws Ellie’s life into a tailspin. Ellie must come to terms with hard truths, but along the way she learns she doesn’t have to live her life in the shadow of others and that true friends will support you through everything. This fast-paced, humorous novel will have readers racing to the end as they fall in love with Ellie’s quirky and authentic personality. Johnson deftly explores identity and responsibility to ourselves and others in this joyful coming-of-age story.

Marvelous. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Product Details

BN ID: 2940159936738
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication date: 05/02/2023
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 388,712
Age Range: 8 - 11 Years
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