People always tell kids to be good. But sometimes being likable is not enough. Lynne Jonell's Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat gives a good example of this limitation. Emmy starts out trying to be good enough for her parents to care about her, or for the other kids to notice her, but nothing works. The class rat advises her to try being mean, but that doesn't work either. So, luckily for the reader, she starts taking more direct action, first rather aimlessly and then figuring out exactly what is going wrong and how to fix it.
Earlier this week I sat in during N's library period, and the librarian was talking about themes. (I confess that I whispered my answer to N so he could call it out. Good job, N!) With that on my mind, I think the theme for this book is being true to yourself. Emmy stops trying to please others and works things out for herself. The rat tries on different identities until he find one that suits. There's even a look at a parent forcing soccer on his son until the boy, a gifted athletic, longs for a break. And it's all fun. Emmy isn't even an orphan, although her parents leave her alone with her vast wealth (which is one of the problems she has to fix). There are evil scientists, nasty nannies, and sports mad chipmunks. I had a great time reading this book, and I bet my sons would like it as well. Too bad I waited until the day it was due to read it. B+