Title: Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (Emmy and
the Rat, #1)
Author: Lynne Jonell
Published By: Henry Holt and Co. (2007)
Synopsis: Emmy was a good girl. At least she tried very hard to be good. She did her homework without being told. She ate all her vegetables, even the slimy ones. And she never talked back to her nanny, Miss Barmy, although it was almost impossible to keep quiet, some days.
She really was a little too good. Which is why she liked to sit by the Rat. The Rat was not good at all . . .(Taken from Goodreads.)
While this book may seem weird or strange at first because of the word “rat” in the title and the corresponding rodent aspect of the story, it was not strange or weird in the least (at least not to me). The rats are spoken about just as any other animal, not regarded differently for a creepy aspect or whatever. Personally, I found it was incredibly unique and fantastical.
Ten-year-old Emmy is our heroine, a rich girl living in a huge house with servants and a nanny but no parents, who are always off away on some trip or another. She tries very hard to be a good girl to get her parents to come back, but it goes nowhere. Emmy made the perfect role to lead this adventure. It was written almost as a fairy tale, focusing on the action more than the characters, which in this case I thought was fine. Same goes for the other characters too—except the Rat, who was easily the starring role in the plot, the most developed character, and the best, all in one.
Adventure, magic, evil nannies, a ten-year-old heroine—this story was right up my alley. Such a unique storyline with twists and turns you never see coming! Even though the main character is young, it is by no means limited to her age range; I think all ages can enjoy this story. It felt so original — because who else writes stories about talking rats with magical powers and the girl who helps save them?
There were a lot of typical middle-school themes in this book—trying to be a good girl, the temptations to “be bad”, family struggles, being good enough, and loyalty to friends—all of which were skillfully explored through a middle-grade lens. Present but not straightforward, I think readers will take a lot from this book, maybe without even realizing it.
I loved this book as a middle-schooler and still have a great appreciation for it now in my high school years. While definitely aimed at younger grades, I think this lighthearted tale is something all ages can enjoy. To this day it remains one of my favorite books of all time.
Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
Recommended to: Enthusiastically recommended to all ages!