Rummanah Aasi
  After reading the Emmy and The Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell, I finished the list for the Bluestem Award. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Bluestem Award, is a Reader's Choice Award for books that are written for Grades 3-5. Books are selected by students, librarians, and teachers. Participating schools in this award hosted by the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA) hold an election and a winner is announced. I really enjoyed reading the nominees this year and can't wait to see the list for next year. I'm glad that I finished Emmy and The Incredible Shrinking Rat and ended the reading list on a happy note.  

Description: Emmy Addison was perfectly happy as the daughter of bookstore owners, but then her parents inherited a lot of money and she suddenly became invisible. She can't understand why her formerly attentive, loving parents are always constantly away and leaving her alone with the strange and controlling Miss Barmy, her nanny, who gives strange concoctions to Emmy to drink and eat. To much of Emmy's dismay, it's not just her parents who don't notice her, but also everyone in her classroom. When she is bitten by the classroom pet rat, called appropriately Rat, she discovers that she can understand what he says and so can her fellow classmate, Joe, one of the cool kids in her class. Things really get challenging and odd when Rat bites Joe and Joe shrinks to Rat's size.Determined to unshrink her friend, Emmy discovers Miss Barmy's hidden agenda. Could Miss Barmy be the reason why Emmy is invisible to her parents and her classmates? What is in those drinks and food that Miss Barmy serves at Emmy's house?

Review: Emmy and Incredible Shrinking Rat is a charming and very funny story. The beginning, especially the scene where Rat admonishes Emmy for being too nice, hooks the reader right away. Emmy, our heroine, is adorable. She is very frustrated by being invisible to others, even when she is physically present in front of them. She yearns for her parent's attention and adoration. We see her desperately tying to capture their attention by excelling in school and other extra curricular activities but to no avail. So when Rat and Joe seek her friendship and help, she immediately jumps on board and thus begins to uncover the agenda of the evil nanny, Miss Barmy. As a villain, Miss Barmy is not too scary and serves as excellent fodder for jokes. The real star of the story, however, is Rat. I absolutely loved his snarky voice. He had me constantly laughing and smiling.
   A mystery regarding Miss Barmy is cleverly woven into this fun story, but at times it seems to take the story off track and thus slow down parts of the book. As an adult, I was able to figure out the mystery and Miss Barmy's motive, but I still enjoyed on how Emmy, Rat, Joe, and other characters work together to resolve the conflicts. I would have also liked a clearer explanation of how the animals have powers, but I think kids will be most invested with the talking animals and the jokes and not mind the obvious plot line or this hole in the story. I  thought the illustrator did a neat job in decorating the margins with drawings that produce a flip-book effect: the rat falls from the bough of a tree, covering his eyes as he somersaults backward in mid-air to land in Emmy's outstretched hand. It is very different than your average illustration between the text. Emmy and The Incredible Shrinking Rat is a funny, fun filled read that I'm sure many kids and adults will love.

Rating: 4.5 stars


Words of Caution: None. Although the reading level is suitable for Grades 3 and up, Grades 1 and 2 will definitely enjoy this story and the book would be a great choice for a read aloud.

If you like this book try: Emmy and The Home for Troubled Girls by Lynne Jonell, Matlida by Roald Dahl, or The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
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