Title: Ellie Ever
Author: Nancy Ruth Patterson
Illustrator: Patty Weise
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Concepts: wealth, poverty, class, jobs
Review: No matter how much she tried, Ellie Taylor had trouble coming to terms with the devastation caused by the hurricane. Her father had drowned while trying to rescue some people in need, she and her mom had lost their home and were forced to live in a shelter, and her dog’s whereabouts had become unknown.
These hardships and a set of fortuitous circumstances led Ellie and her mom to relocate to a rural part of Virginia known for its horse farms. Her mother had gotten a job managing a farm that catered to old, injured, and unwanted horses, as well as an apprenticeship in the horseshoe making trade. Although Ellie’s outstanding school record helped her to get a scholarship at the local elite school, Ellie quickly felt out of place for both her smarts and her limited economic means. When rumors spread that Ellie came from a royal family who owned the horse farm, she welcomed the opportunity to pretend to be someone else. What better way to fit in?
While Ever Ellie focuses on establishing one’s identity in the face of adversity and change, the author also does a nice job in linking the story with some important lessons about reasons for homelessness among adults and children. Parents and educators seeking a middle-grade novel that entwines themes related to socioeconomic class within an engaging story will value this new addition to the literature.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children