cover image Ellie Engle Saves Herself (Ellie Engle #1)

Ellie Engle Saves Herself (Ellie Engle #1)

Leah Johnson. Disney-Hyperion, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-368-08555-7

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)