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  • March 22, 2018 4 min read

     

    Our latest Princess Awesome Book Club Pick is ELLIE ENGINEER, by Jackson Pearce. We chose this book because Ellie is a girl after our own heart - she's smart, tough, and full of ideas on how to make her world a better place. With her toolbelt and her plans, she's ready to take on all kinds of challenges.

    ELLIE ENGINEER is the perfect book for kids aged 6-12 who like to build things, whether it's sandcastles, pillow forts, or treehouses!

    An interview with author Jackson Pearce

    Now that ELLIE, ENGINEER is out in the world, I’m finding I’ve got to spend a lot of time answering a question that has basically plagued me ever since I got the book idea:

    Who did I write Ellie for?

    Here are some easy ways to answer that question:

    1. I wrote Ellie for myself, because I’m selfish like that. Really, though—I wrote Ellie because I am Ellie. I like pink and glitter and skirts and makeup and power tools and building and the smell of sawdust. When I was younger, I often got the feeling that I was doing something wrong by liking all of those things together—that I was only allowed to like “girl stuff” or “boy stuff”.

    It was only when I got older that I realized how dumb that is. How, as Ellie puts it in the book, there’s no such thing as “girl stuff” or “boy stuff”. There’s just stuff and you can like whatever it is you like.

    2. I wrote Ellie for kids everywhere, because I want them to know about how there’s no such thing as “girl stuff” and “boy stuff”. I want them to be totally unashamed about liking bugs and writing in cursive and makeup tutorials and how cool decomposition is. I want kids to know that more than anything, it’s important that you like something, no matter how weird or strange.

    As I say in many a school visit—find something to be a weirdo about, and then be the biggest horse/sports/video game/math/chicken/puppeteering/baking weirdo you can be. It’s only be being a big giant weirdo that you’ll attract other big giant weirdos to your life, and trust me, life is better when you’re surrounded by big giant weirdos.

    But those answers get really, really complicated, because…Ellie is a girl. Right now, there’s still a huge amount of sexism in book-buying, still a crummy mentality about “boy books” and “girl books”. I don’t think it’s always intentional, of course—I think sometimes we’re just trying our best to get a book into the hands of a reluctant reader. I even I find myself sometimes talking about my DOUBLECROSS series as “a good boy book”!

    Similarly, I see some readers calling ELLIE a “good girl book”. And while I’m obviously honored and happy to see something I wrote being recommended, I also worry that by saying a book is a book for girls or for boys, we might be propagating that book-buying sexism, despite our very best intentions.

    So—who did I write Ellie for?

    3. I wrote Ellie for little girls. I want little girls to see someone like them, or someone they could be—someone who is proud of who she is and has confidence in what she can do. I want them to see Ellie’s female best friends, who are beauty pageant contestants and comic book artists and skateboarders, and get excited about being those things. I want them to see math and science and art and dogs and get excited about those things, too. I want them to see a group of friends who are all very different, but who find ways to connect and play off one another’s strengths rather than let those differences divide them.

    4. I wrote Ellie for little boys. I want them to see a little girl who knows about construction and building and engineering, and for them to understand that the color pink and power tools are not opposites. I want them to see a little boy—Toby, in the book—asking a girl for help, being excited when she knows more than he does about construction. I want them to see a little boy who is friends with a little girl, and how that isn’t a big deal or weird or gross.

    5. I wrote Ellie for everyone—and I hope that everyone, boy or girl or non-conforming—gets the chance to read it and see a little girl being an engineer, fluffy skirts and all.


    Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of a series of teen retold fairy-tales, including Sisters RedSweetlyFathomless, and Cold Spell, as well as two stand-alones, As You Wish and Purity. As J. Nelle Patrick, she is the author of Tsarina. In addition to The Doublecross and The Inside Job, her middle grade novels include Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, co-written with Maggie Stiefvater. Visit her at www.jacksonpearce.com and @JacksonPearce (Twitter and Instagram).

    *****************************************
    Diana Peterfreund is the curator of the Princess Awesome Book Club. She has published more than a dozen novels for adults, teens, and kids, including the four-book Secret Society Girl series (Bantam Dell), the “killer unicorn novels” Rampant and Ascendant (Harper Teen), For Darkness Shows the Stars (a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion), and Across a Star-Swept Sea (inspired by the classic series The Scarlet Pimpernel). Her newest series, OMEGA CITY, is a contemporary adventure novel for younger readers set in a secret bunker city somewhere under modern Maryland.

    Her works have been named to the New York Public Library’s Books for the Teen Age list, the Capitol Choices (metro DC-area) reading list, and the Texas Lonestar List, as well as having been named to Amazon’s Best Books of the Year. In addition, she’s written several critically acclaimed short stories and a variety of non-fiction essays about  popular children’s literature.  Diana lives outside Washington D.C., with her family.

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