by Lynne Jonell Art by Jonathan Bean
Random House Australia. Young Adult, Junior. Paperback Rrp $16.95
Reviewed by Dianne Bates
‘Rodent-friendly’ is a term used to describe this sequel to Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. In fact there are a lot of rats in these stories, though the main character is an ordinary girl, Emmy Addison, from a wealthy family. The books’ appeal is to children eight years and older who like the magical idea of shrinking people: I remember how enchanted I was with this concept when I read Mary Norton’s The Borrowers.
Emmy moves to and from the world of rats, being able to communicate with the little animals that she has come to love as a result of meeting (in the first book) Raston Rat, her class’s fourth-grade pet which has unusual powers. In the first book Emmy’s friends Ratty and Joe managed to get rid of an obnoxious nanny. In this sequel, five girls have gone missing, and thus it is that Emmy once again gets swept up with her friend Joe on an adventure that is quite out of the ordinary.
Despite the fact that the beginning of Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls needs almost a chapter to set the scene – basically explaining the first book and the role of the rats in Emmy’s life – this book is a rollicking good read. It has warmth and is fast-paced, charged with humour and inventive situations.
One of the features of the book is a series of black and white illustrations set in an attic where a rat, as you flick the pages, leaps up to a piece of rope and manages to gain access to an interesting shelf of goodies.
As a child I would have loved this book (despite its quite old-fashioned brown and blue cover): as an adult I recommend it.
Editor’s Note: Jonell’s first book, Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, was reviewed in Issue 10 of thereadingstack.