Elfie Unperfect

Knopf Books for Young Readers, August 2021

Perfectionist Elfie Oster learns the value of “unperfection,” in this funny look at school life from the author of Annie’s Life in Lists

Elfie Oster was sure that Hampshire Academy was going to be the perfect school for her. She was sure about it right up to the minute she got expelled. On her first day.

It was all a terrible misunderstanding, but until she can find a way to fix things, Elfie has to go back to Cottonwood Elementary for fifth grade. Where she’s never really fit in. Or had friends. It is not a perfect situation. And then it gets worse. Her babysitter gets really sick. Her aunt and uncle aren’t speaking. She’s forced to do a group project involving an egg. . . .

But sometimes when everything goes spectacularly wrong, you figure out what truly matters–and what doesn’t. So really, this terrible, horrible, surprisingly hilarious year may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to Elfie.

“A sure pick for booksmart readers who might need a boost making friends, and an excellent candidate for illustrating social-emotional learning skills.”

—School Library Journal

“Just the right mix of gentle humor, unconditional love from her mother and father, and Elfie’s own compelling brand of heart. A solid story about the importance of community rather than perfection.”


“Dan Santat’s inviting jacket art, the many vivid characters, and Elfie’s spot-on conversations with both kids and adults will draw readers into her involving story of turmoil, discovery, and change.”


“A realistic, poignant, and funny middle grade book about letting go of perfectionism and embracing the messiness of real life. This is one of those rare middle grade books that would work for both younger and somewhat older audiences.”

—Reading Middle Grade