Middle Grade Book Review: Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking RatEmmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: August 7, 2007
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Emmy feels like she’s invisible. No one notices her at school and her parents are always traveling, leaving her at home with her crotchety Nanny, Miss Barmy. Emmy tries her hardest to be good but she can never seem to please Miss Barmy. One day the classroom pet, the Rat, not only notices her but starts talking to her! Is he a good rat or a bad rat? And how is it that he can talk and Emmy can understand him?

I liked that this book was dark without being too scary or too suspenseful. Emmy’s parents are absent most of the time, but not dead like parents are in a lot of fantasy books. My first grader is super sensitive and can’t read books or watch movies with dead parents. It was also funny and has some grossness that kids will love. Even though Emmy is a girl, this is not a “girly” book and should appeal to both girls and boys. There is plenty of action, mystery and fantasy.

This middle grade book is geared toward three-six graders. My second grader, who reads at probably a third or fourth grade level, read this book to himself and loved it. He had no problem comprehending the plot. I read this book aloud to my first grader, who also loved the book but a little trouble connecting the dots when Emmy started to solve the mystery of the talking Rat and the evil Miss Barmy. When I sensed he wasn’t getting something, I would stop reading and discuss with him what he thought was happening and then help him to understand it better. With this help, he was also able to comprehend the book and he also loved it. His favorite part was the flipbook on the right margin. As you read the book, there are pictures of the Rat slowly falling out of a tree. It was a fun way to track our progress through the book

My boys and I read this book for the Intergenerational Book Club at our church. The facilitator of the book club came up with some really fun activities to go along with our discussion. We always have food that relates to the book so she brought miniature peanut butter cups, which are the Rat’s favorite snack. Also mentioned in the book are jam tarts. She found some cookies with jam in the middle and brought those. In the book, Emmy makes a chinchilla foot out of clay so the facilitator brought some modeling clay and a picture of a chinchilla. The kids had a blast making their own chinchilla feet. And the piece de resistance (for the kids anyway!) was the whoopee cushion she brought for them to take turns playing with. Farting plays a significant part in one part of the book, much to my disgust and all the children’s delight.

This book is the first in a series that includes at least three books so far. My boys were delighted to know that there were more books about Emmy waiting for them to read – a ringing endorsement for sure!

Buy this book at:
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For more reviews of books for children and teens, check out Booking Mama’s feature, Kid Konnection, posted on Saturdays. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, you can go to her site to leave a comment and your link .

  • http://rhapsodyinbooks.wordpress.com rhapsodyinbooks

    Rat has good taste in snacks – LOL!

  • http://bermudaonion.net bermudaonion(Kathy)

    I have a feeling my son would have loved this when he was young! A talking rat and some grossness sound like a recipe for success!