Bestselling Millennial author Leah Johnson just secured her bag after 11 publication houses fought for rights to her new book, Ellie Engel Saves Herself. Johnson’s middle-grade debut is described as “a superhero origin story in the tone of the Baby-Sitters Club.”
Disney Hyperion purchased the first two books of the series for a reported seven-figures – making Johnson, 27, a millionaire. The series will follow Elliot Engel in a story about “discovering your queerness, literal Black girl magic and what it means to become your own hero.”
Ellie Engel has a dynamic story. She’s the young, queer daughter of a struggling single mom. She loves comic books and hanging out with her best friend, Abby. But Ellie’s life takes an unexpected turn after a freak earthquake hits her small town. She winds up with unimaginable powers.
Leah Johnson’s book series gains national attention
Now 12-year-old Ellie has to figure out how to live with her new powers and balance them with the complicated romantic feelings she has for her best friend. And after an international pop star learns about Ellie’s powers and offers her life-changing money to bring her dog back to life on national TV, Ellie has to make a choice – try to get her quiet life back or take the final step into the spotlight.
Johnson debuted her bestselling YA freshman novel, You Should See Me in a Crown, during the summer of 2020. The novel follows high school senior Liz Lighty as she struggles with affording college and living while Black in a small Midwestern town. Liz plans to make a clean break from her small town by attending an elite university, playing in their world-famous orchestra and becoming a doctor. But her plans are thrown for a loop when her financial aid unexpectedly falls through.
The talented young queen doesn’t see herself as such but throws her name in the hat to compete for her high school’s prom queen title and scholarship. One of her competitors is the new girl, Mack. The contest becomes complicated when Liz begins falling for her competition.
“Rise to the Sun”
Rise to the Sun, Johnson’s sophomore novel, is available for pre-order now and is due to release July 6, 2021.
The book takes place primarily at the Farmland Music and Arts Festival. There, two young women stumble into each other’s orbit and discover their magnetic attraction to each other. Toni is on a personal journey following the death of her roadie father, and Olivia is a “hopeless romantic whose heart has just taken a beating (again).” Their whirlwind romance is send into a frenzy when something goes wrong at the festival. Ultimately, the pair discover the importance of their love for music and the fledgling love for each other.
So, if you’re looking for the next book or two to pick up for your young reader (or yourself!), make sure and snag one of these titles. Whether you buy your books in-person or online, please make sure to support Black and minority owned local bookstores like Fulton Street Books & Coffee in Tulsa. Her protagonists epitomize the queer Black girl magic Johnson surely sees in herself. We’ll be keeping an eye out for pre-sales to open up. Go show the author some love on her Twitter – @byleahjohnson.