Elle Campbell Wins Their Weekend

Scholastic. Oct. 2023. 272p. spiral $18.99. ISBN 9781338815306.
Gr 4-7–Elle Campbell’s hero is Nuri Grena, the actor playing the current lead on their favorite show, Phantom Thief. With Nuri as a role model, seventh grader Elle recently had the courage to come out as nonbinary, and they have the support of their mom and two close friends, Agatha and Taylor. After a long day and a run-in with a closed-minded, angry substitute, they end up in Saturday detention at the very same time their hero will be in town for publicity signings. Showing some creativity and true friendship, Taylor and Agatha concoct a movie-worthy plan to get Elle out of detention and off to Nuri’s signings. After a slow start, the pace and fun pick up, from the first stop on the three’s tour of the town chasing Nuri. The scenes of them playing laser tag (where a potential crush for Elle waits nearby) are particularly good: Kahn’s graphic novel roots show in this, their middle grade prose debut. Parts of Elle’s school life are somewhat stereotypical, but not Elle. Billed as a homage to Ferris Bueller, the book is sprinkled with references to John Hughes—some clever, others a little clunky. And like Hughes’s films, most main characters, with a couple exceptions, cue as white. A few of the circumstances in their capers rely on a suspension of disbelief, but mostly, young readers will enjoy the ride.
VERDICT Elle’s story illuminates the inner life of a nonbinary middle schooler, and it’s a fun, friend-filled adventure. Recommended purchase for upper elementary and early middle school collections.

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