Ellie and her friends from Ellie, Engineer (2018) return for more mishaps while proving anyone can be an engineer.
Ellie, Kit, and Toby use a pulley to build an elevator for Ellie’s workshop, both so they won’t have to carry supplies up the ladder and so the workshop will be accessible to people like Ellie’s grandmother and a school friend who uses a wheelchair (the latter is mentioned but doesn’t appear in the story). Unfortunately, the design fails, dumping and shattering its massive (and borrowed-without-permission) pickle-jar payload. Ellie’s punishment consists of helping elderly neighbor Mrs. Curran for a week. With Kit’s help, Ellie plans all sorts of inventions she could make to help a grandmother type only to find that stereotype-breaking Mrs. Curran’s an appearance-focused doll artist who does not bake cookies and who has sophisticated tastes. When Toby joins the girls at Mrs. Curran’s house, the team starts to use their engineering know-how to make repairs and improvements—but though she’s appreciative, Mrs. Curran can’t wrap her head around the fact that Ellie is the brains of the operation, and she defaults to crediting Toby. To help Mrs. Curran realize that girls can be engineers, they scheme to show her she can be one herself, with an improved elevator design to help her carry her art supplies up to her studio. One last twist complicates their plan before the happy ending. The thematic parallel that compares limited expectations of both girls and the elderly works well, but it isn’t subtle. The cast seems to default to white.
A structurally sound story about challenging assumptions and responsible engineering. (guide to simple machines) (Fiction. 7-11)