Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

by Lynne Jonell

I read this book in 3rd grade (With Mrs. Eaves as a teacher!) and I remember how I could really feel the story, especially the evilness of Miss Barmy. I hope you can too… Enjoy!

It feels to Emmy like she has no parents at all. They are always off on trips, exploring faraway places and she is stuck at home with her nanny Miss Barmy. Emmy never talks back to her nanny, nor does she refuse vegetables, not do her homework and things of the sort.  Miss Barmy is very mean to her and she makes her eat and drink peculiar things. She writes letters to her parents, but she never gets a response. Life is not so great.

Emmy does not have many friends, but she likes to sit by the classroom pet, the Rat.  This was because she could hear him speak. A rat, speaking! Nonetheless, he was rude and and angry all the time. No one else could hear him until one day, when a boy in her class, Joe gets bitten by him. Joe is talking to Emmy and in response to him saying “I was just trying to feed him a carrot. You’d think he would have been grateful.” the Rat said “Ha!” Joe was stunned. He had to leave right after, but for most of the rest of the book, Joe becomes 4 inches tall.  Read this story and In guarantee that you will want to read the next book, Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls, right away.

Click on the book cover to access Lynne Jonell’s website and her summary of the book. And click here to see the video book review on YouTube courtesy of 60secondrecap PickoftheWeek.


“Jonell takes readers on a merry, sometimes scary romp… It’s fun to watch remarkably good Emmy and especially bad Barmy spar.”

— Booklist, starred review

George and the Big Bang

George and the Big Bangan exciting exploration of space and emerging science

while you don’t have to have read the first two books in the series there are pieces for each of the first two books wrapped into the story of the third.  If you know about Dr. Reeper and Pookie, Cosmos and the real cosmic adventures you’ll enjoy this book even more.

In this third science adventure George finds himself surrounded by change.  Freddy really has gotten too big for the backyard.  His new baby sisters are loud and demanding – twins take both parents.  Annie has some new friends and George doesn’t know quite where he fits in anymore. On top of that Eric has the opportunity to begin working on one of the biggest science experiments of all time. He’s going to be working at the Large Hadron Collider to explore the earliest moments of the Universe – the big bang.

It would be a dream job, but TOERAG (‘Theory of Everything Resists Addition of Gravity’) an anti-science group of protesters, are claiming the Collider will create a black hole and destroy the world. Everything is not as it seems – is anything ever?  George and Annie discover a plot to try and destroy the experiment and the collider and cause a huge set back for all science. George and Annie have to find a way to outwit this group intent on stopping the experiment forever. Will they be in time to expose the plot and keep Eric safe?  Of course – but it is great fun discovering how they do it and learning some of the science that is currently being discovered and explored.  The mix of story and science (though some of that science is pretty dense!) make George and the Big Bang a great book to read and explore.  Read all three and find someone to discuss the science essays with even further.  It is especially fun to explore information about space at George’s website.  Enjoy!

The Thing About Georgie

The Thing About Georgieby Lisa Graff

A while ago I wrote a post about a collection of books that shared what I thought of as “typical” kids.  At that time I lamented that it was challenging to find boys portrayed as they are – rather than super goofy or foolish or afraid.  I know that it’s great to be able to laugh at yourself, but sometimes it would be nice to just be.  A comment on that post led me to A Thing about Georgie.

The thing about Georgie Bishop is that he is a dwarf.  He’s in fourth grade.  His best friend, might not be his best friend anymore and because of that he has to partner up with his worst enemy for the president project.  Not only does he have to work with Jeanie the Meanie, his mom is going to have a baby – one that will grow up to be taller than Georgie and be able to do all the things it is impossible for Georgie to do.

Georgie’s mom and dad play in the symphony.  Before Georgie was born they had painted his room with a poem they had composed ending with:  “Everyone is waiting for you –  Only you complete our song.”  Until now Georgie had read that poem as a sign of their love.  With the new baby coming Georgie began to see what a disappointment he was – he couldn’t play an instrument – he could reach and he never would, but the new baby would.  With this sad and angry thought Georgie can’t seem to do anything right – ordinarily he’d ask for help, and share his concerns.  But how can he share your darkest thoughts and secrets.  Georgie doesn’t and so he becomes sadder, angrier and more alone until he finds himself lost with his ex-best friend’s grandmother and his enemy partner – and he so short he can’t reach the coin slot of the pay phone has to be the one to undo the mess.

You’ll learn about yourself as you read about Georgie.  He’s different, but he’s also exactly the same.   We all have some good and some bad and some in between.  Yes, Georgie Bishop is a dwarf, but that’s not the only thing!

This is another Lisa Graff (her first) book that you’ll be glad you read!  Click here to find out about Lisa, her books and the recipes that come from them.  I love how this book talks to you and shares information along with the story so you can better understand some of the things Georgie has to deal with.  Things we don’t even think about that he has to all the time.  So what is the thing about you?


Button Down

Button Down as you read you’ll learn about family and football, the 1930’s and dedication.  just right for middle readers – when you’re done you’ll be hoping for more stories about the Buttons.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our assumptions and unexamined stereotypes make us act.   And I’ve been wondering how books can help us change. Button Down is the second book by Anne Ylvisaker about the Button family.  They’re from rural Iowa.  During the Depression the Button family may not have much, but they do have each other – and they have the Hawkeye football.

For the first time in Goodhue history their high school football hero is going to State to play ball.  Ned, being a Button through and through is not very talented, but he is dedicated to the game.  As Lester is leaving for college he tosses his ball out and miraculously Ned catches it. He only has seconds to savor his catch before Burton grabs the ball from his hands and claims it as his own.  Burton is Lester’s younger brother and son to the owners of the Ben Franklin.  He claims he can do whatever he wants to a Button, and he does.  But you can’t play football alone.  You need a team to play against so Burton and Ned set up a game – the winner get to keep the Lester’s ball.

Ned and his group can’t practice in the field.  Burton’s team does.  Ned’s team has to play with a newspaper ball wrapped with twine.  It’s the best they have, and not nearly as good as the real thing. It seems there’s no way they won’t get killed.  Sometimes in order to succeed, you need someone who believes in you and that’s when Granddaddy Ike get’s involved.  He can hardly walk.  He can hardly hear and his heart seems to be failing, but he helps Ned understand that winning football is not about what you have or how hard you can hit; it’s also about strategy, plays and doing what they other team doesn’t expect.

“I might have underestimated you,” said Granddaddy.  Figured you were like the rest of this lot, tree roots growing out of the soles of their shoes, tethering them to this one spot of soil, now to kingdom come.  Rather hear about a thing than do a thing.  Hmmmm…”

Nothing is as it seems or as smooth as we wish, but reading Button Down to find out how the game goes is worth every page – when you finish you’ll have a new idea about what it means to have heart and how much is matters to have someone who knows you inside and out and believes in you all the way.  Go out – play the game, if you don’t you’ll never know it you can.

Thanks for Visiting!

 Thanks for visiting our blog. Over the last year, we have gotten 4,000 views and we are still counting! Now you have been added to the count for this year! 🙂
We would love to know what books you found from our blog! If you have suggestions we haven’t found, please let us know in the comments.
Now that it’s vacation we’re sure that you’ll have a ton of time to read, right?

The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe

The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia #1) by C.S. Lewis

The Pevensie Children have just been sent to live with a Professor Kirke, since their parents feel that is unsafe for the children where they were living in World War II. Soon after they arrive, they start to explore the curious and enormous house. Wandering aimlessly, they stumble upon a room without anything in it. Except a very large wardrobe. Peter, Susan and Edmund leave the room and they are not in the least bit interested. Lucy, the youngest of the four, stays and ends up getting inside. Doing this unlocked a whole new world for the children… literally! Deep inside the wardrobe Lucy found herself standing in a “snowy wood.”

If you are a fantasy reader, then this book is for you. It has lions, an evil witch and a magical wardrobe that is the entrance to a different world… Narnia.

Click on the picture to access the C.S Lewis Website.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.com!

As always, leave a comment if you have read this book or you just want to comment!

Navigating Early

Navigating Earlyby Clare Vanderpool

a 300 page quest for the largest bear in the Appalachian woods of Maine – at least that what they say at first…

Lost, alone and without bearings.  That’s how Jack Baker finds himself when his dad, Captain John Baker, Jr., leaves him at Morton Hill Academy for boys in Cape Fealty, Maine.  It the day before most boys will arrive and Jack has time to wander and wonder at his new life.  This is a life outside of Kansas, a life without the gentle guidance of his mom, a life filled with questions and regret.

Full of all this emptiness, Jack goes to the beach where he sees a boy filling sand bags as though he is trying to hold the ocean back from the shore.  From that moment loneliness and loss bind them.  Jack is new to everything in the school.  Unfamiliar with this life he has to navigate through a series of challenges and just when Jack is sure he will fail – there is Early, teaching him guiding him, telling him with an odd certainty what to do.

Early, clearly brilliant, doesn’t always go to class often.  He has an odd presence that the rest of the boys tolerate, but seldom include.  He lives in a basement workshop that was once the custodian’s room.  He has a jar of jellybeans for sorting, a sequence of music he listens to and an uncanny way of understanding numbers. They tell him a story through their shapes and colors.

Pi, 3.14, in fact, launches their quest.  Dr. Stanton a famed mathematician has put forth a theory that Pi will end.  Ones have stopped appearing in its sequence and he posits that eventually all the digits will disappear.  Early does not, cannot believe this is true.  The numbers tell Early that Pi is on a quest to discover his destiny and find his family.  On fall break, Early embarks on his own quest down the Kennibec River and across parts of the Appalachian Trail in search of the great black bear, his lost family and his place in the world.  Jack goes along.

Navigating Early is a quest through loss and longing, challenge, heartache and aching loneliness.  You’ll navigate your way through each step of the journey, returning home with hope and wonder, relief, kindness and the best of all friends, “Early Auden, that strangest of boys.”

Dogs of Winter

The Dogs of Winterby Bobbie Pryon

I was looking for realistic fiction.  I was looking for a book that was serious and that had a male main character.  I came across Dogs of Winter, with a note on the cover saying, “based on a true story.”  I thought I’d give it a try.  Wow!  I’m glad I did.  The more I read the more I wondered.  What is happening right now around me that I am not aware of?  What can I do to help?  How many starving children are there lurking in the background hoping to remain invisible, desperate to survive?

This is the story of Ivan Andreovich.  At first he is in kindergarten, learning to read in his little apartment with his Babushka Ina and his mom.  Shortly after his grandmother dies and he finds himself needing to  hide in the pantry from “him” and a bit later he has been left on the winter streets of Moscow.  Hungry, cold and alone, Ivan tries to join up with the other children he finds in the city, but they are mean and greedy.  Ivan notices the dogs – they make sure everyone has some…some company, some food, some warmth.  Ivan chooses the dogs.  He helps Lucky and Lucky brings the little boy to his pack.  Ivan joins the pack and together they learn to survive through the coldest bleakest winter and the sunny bounty of summer.  For three or so years, Ivan lives with the dogs – becoming one of the pack, but there are moments when he longs for stories and wishes for music.

When he told his story Ivan said, “I was better off with the dogs.  They loved and protected me.”  What is the truth in that statement?  The heart wrenching ending of this book has me wondering.  Make sure to read Dogs of Winter.  Wonder about what people do, what they can do, what they have to do and what they don’t do.  Though it has been two weeks since I finished reading this book I still hear the howl of sorrow and loss echoing in my mind – and I wonder.


Henry Huggins lives on Clickatat Street with his parents and his dog Ribsy. When they bring Ribsy to the mall in the station wagon, and he somehow manages to put down the window and hop out. Being color blind, he finds his way into another families station wagon. Ribsy goes home with them and then  has many adventures with different people in different environment. If you read this book, you will grow to love the characters and setting that Beverly Cleary uses and also her style of writing.

This was a book that I took out of the library lots of times, and took three copies when they were discarding the old ones. Beverly Cleary’s series of related books are so great, they give you an excellent image on what’s happening. I recommend this book from when I was 6 years old.

Beverly Cleary’s Website: www.beverlycleary.com

Buy Ribsy by Beverly Cleary on Amazon.com here.

Keeping Safe the Stars

Keeping Safe the Starsby Sheila O’Connor

set in the 70’s with a background of the Watergate Trials, the turmoil of the Vietnam War and the proliferation of cults and communes, the Stars have already survived a lot  – but there will be more.

Imagine being 13 and finding yourself alone with the responsibility of taking care of your little brother and sister.  You’ve already been orphaned and taken by the state – will it happen again?  The Stars are determined that they will be fine until Old Finn comes home, but the wait gets longer and longer.  Pride just needs to get into town to ask Old Finn what to do.  He’s sick, but one question and then she’ll be able to take care of things.  She is certain of that, except nothing seems to work out as hoped.

Since their mother died, the Star children have lived with their grandpa, Old Finn on the farm he calls Eden. It’s away from everyone and everything.  Old Finn wants it that way.  He likes to keep his business to himself.   But then Old Finn gets sick and  not just a little sick; he develops an infection that sends him far away to the hospital in Duluth.  Left in charge of the farm, Pride and her sister, 9-year-old Nightingale and brother, 6-year-old Baby try to figure out how to feed themselves and wait things out.

That proves challenging.  Pride knows she can’t run a household with no money and only a horse to make the long trek into town. The children decide to start a roadside business.  It seems like it might work at first, but then it starts to attract attention from neighbors and concerned adults. Isn’t it odd that three kids are alone seemingly all the time and their stories seem to fall a little short of the truth.  As things begin to unravel, the Stars know they must get to Old Finn and find help to keep them safe before the state takes them into custody.  That is something they couldn’t bear again.

Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O’Connor helps us understand that even bright, resourceful kids can’t go it alone.  It also helps us know that the adults they depend on need plans.  People do need people in order to make it through.  There are  people full of kindness and understanding- not everyone is bad.   It may not be wise to keep others away – even if you’ve had reason to distrust and fear in the past.   If you are a good soul, and it seems clear Old Finn is that, the others will be there waiting and watching and willing to help when they are invited in.

Keeping Safe the Stars holds you until the very end.  You have a sense of how things will go in the end – but nothing goes as the Stars hope or plan throughout the story so you’re not certain of the ending until it comes.  It is a story that will have you thinking and wondering long after you are done.  The Stars will stay with you for a long while.