Note: I am combining my Friday Finds with a book review since I found the book this week and finished reading it today.
While browsing for another book (more about that in a future post) I came upon Emmy And the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell. The title sounded very interesting, but I knew nothing of Ms. Jonell or her writing. A quick perusal of the book gave me enough information to guess it would be a fun read, so I decided to take it home. And I'm so glad I did --it is such a clever story!
The story of Emmy And the Incredible Shrinking Rat begins with 11 year-old Emmeline Addison who lives a very lonely life even though she is surrounded by people and her daily life is packed with activities. To begin with, Emmy's parents are never around, instead they spend more and more time away from home globe-trotting to such events as the Five-Day Sauerkraut Fest, Count Whaposki's polka stomp, and the anniversary of Princess Rotunda's liposuction. To add to the miserable fact that to her parents Emmy seems almost invisible, she is forced to eat and drink nasty tasting food and beverages that her peculiar, but very attractive nanny, Miss Barmy, believes are vital to Emmy's health and well being. In addition, Miss Barmy insists that Emmy must demonstrate that she is a "good girl" by filling up any free time with extra curricular activities. When she's not in school than she must be at gymnastics, or ballet, or pottery class, or music class -- you get the idea. Emmy has no free time and no friends. Like with her parents, Emmy appears practically invisible to her classmates too and her teacher can never remember her name. It is a lonely existence where the only person who will talk to her isn't even a person, it's a rat. A very mean and bad rat.
Published in 2007, Emmy And the Incredible Shrinking Rat is a imaginative story of mystery, fantasy, and a little science-fiction. In the midst of this, Ms. Jonell is able to intertwine a great deal of humor and even some moral lessons without coming across as preachy. The book, intended for children ages 8-12 is a very quick read for an adult even though it clocks in at 346 pages. There are no illustrations save for the same picture at the top of each page. However, I did notice about 50 pages into the book that if you flip the pages of the entire book very quickly the picture changes enough to look like it's in motion. Very clever indeed!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe it to be a great book to read aloud with a child, though like The Mysterious Benedict Society by Lee Stewart (review posted here), it is also a great book to read to one-self as an adult. If you liked The Mysterious Benedict Society I think you will also like this book. Borrow from your local public library or buy a copy -- either way it should be easily attainable and a must for your "To Be Read" list.
Emmy And the Incredible Shrinking Rat is the first novel by Ms. Jonell, but not her first published work. She has also written and published at least seven children's pictures books and I'm excited to see has completed a sequel to this novel titled: Emmy And the Home For Troubled Girls, which will be available next month (Oct 14, 2008). I look forward to picking up a copy and possibly adding both this book and the new one to my personal library.
One little note, if you want to avoid any spoilers be sure to wait and visit Ms. Jonell's website until after you've finished reading Emmy And The Incredible Shrinking Rat. No information has been posted on Wikipedia.