From award-winning YA author Leah Johnson comes her magical middle grade debut: a laugh-until-you-cry, cry-until-you-laugh story about an ordinary girl whose life is turned upside down by some extraordinary powers.
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 fantastical powers that allow her 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.---from the publisher
288 pages 978-1368085557 Ages 8-12
Keywords: fantasy and magic, girls and women, superpowers, African American and Black stories, African American author, Black Girl books, middle school, LGBTQ, panic attacks, single parent, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old
"If you want to be a hero the first thing you have to do is have a great origin story." Ellie Engle knows that - because she is a comic book reader and has learned a lot from superhero tales. The problem is Ellie never wanted to be a hero. Ellie's life is fairly ordinary and that is okay with her. She has her mom (although she is always at work), her pet goldfish (although a fish is hard to cuddle), and her time at the bakery helping out Mr. Walker (her grandpa's buddy). Most of all, she has her best friend Abby. Abby is the one determined to make her mark on the world and Ellie is content to cheer Abby on from the sidelines.
After an earthquake hits their town and it seems that Ellie has developed a super power, suddenly everything is out of control. Reporters are hounding Ellie and her mom, keeping their house under siege. Abby has decided to join the cheerleading squad at school and suddenly only has time for her new friends just when Ellie needs her. A mean student in class posts a video of Ellie that captures the attention of a pop star, pushing Ellie into the spotlight and making Abby jealous. On top of everything else, Ellie realizes she has a crush on Abby. Middle school is hard enough without all those extra problems. Will the lessons Ellie has learned from the stories of superheroes be enough to see her through this crisis, or has she met her doom?
Ellie is a believable character caught up in some unbelievable situations and readers will root for her as she works out the best way to get her life back under control. And we may also be quietly hoping that the meanies get their just desserts.
Recommended by: Suzanne Costner, Teacher Librarian, Tennessee USA
See more of her recommendations: https://fveslibrary.blogspot.com/2023/06/summer-reading