Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Review #10: Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

This month's book review is a novel I'm very excited to share with you.  Sometimes when I walk through the library, a title catches my eye that I can't resist.  Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell practically shouted, "Read me!  Read me!" when I walked by the shelf, and I'm so glad I took it home with me.  Here's the summary blurb from her website:

Emmy tried hard to be good, but no one seemed to notice— except for the Rat. And he was rather sarcastic ... What had happened to make her parents stop caring about her? And why do the kids at school seem to hardly know she exists? Could it have anything to do with Miss Barmy, the nanny who kept forcing Emmy to drink and eat the strangest things?

I am pleased to report that this novel has now officially joined my list of favorite books.  I simply loved it.  The premise is unique, the story kept me guessing, and the cast of characters--both fuzzy and human--are so sweet and compelling.  This is everything an animal fantasy book should be, and what aspiring writers of the genre should strive to achieve.  Although I could say I loved everything about the book, what I found particularly impressive are Jonell's storytelling abilities and skill in animal character-building.

The two subjects actually tie together, but I'll take a look at the story first.  Jonell sets up an interesting premise that there are some rodents in the world with special abilities.  The abilities themselves are both surprising and enchanting, and even once you find out how a rodent "works," the end result Jonell gives us is still often unexpected.  The titular "Rat" just happens to have the ability to make people understand rodents when he bites them, setting the whole story in motion.  (Other things happen upon his subsequent bites, but I certainly won't ruin the surprise for you.)  Thus, Emmy's story unfolds with the use of various rodents to help solve the mystery surrounding her parents and ultimately thwart her evil nanny, Miss Barmy.  It's a fairly sizable book, but clips along at a brisk pace, full of twists and turns and avenues I didn't see coming.  It was such a fun ride, too, with everything from rodents playing soccer to a jovial professor who can't remember what his magical critters do.  It's funny, it's emotional, and satisfying all at once--exactly the type of story that holds the reader from page one and doesn't let them go.

The book would be nothing, though, without those talking animals, and Rat is the best of them all.  Jonell walks a careful line with her animals, creating them as characters that do both fantastic and unusual things, while also acting like ordinary rodents.  And then she goes a step further to make these dynamic creatures true characters, too.  Rat, for example, is sassy and mischievous, full of bravado and biting remarks.  But he has a tender soul underneath it all, with worries and weaknesses just like any human character.  In addition, he's also distinctly rat, biting on instinct, careful about his grooming, and even having an accident in Emmy's backpack when he's scared half to death.  (Which only makes you love him more.)  This melding of fantasy, reality, and genuine character gives this book that extra-special touch that makes it such a fascinating read.  Jonell definitely has a thing or two to teach anyone who wants to write an unforgettable book.

If you enjoy reading animal fantasy books, Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat is a good pick for you.  (Even if you don't like rodents, I promise that these will neither gross you out nor make you scream like a ninny.  They are truly loveable little rodents.)  And if you write animal fantasy, then I highly urge you to read this book.  There are so many elements Jonell skillfully uses to craft this winning tale, and my little blog can only discuss so many of them!  :)

You can find out more about Jonell and her other books on her website: www.lynnejonell.com

And if you read this book, do let me know.  I'd love to hear what you think!

Happy Reading!   (I'm raring to pick up the sequel already!)

Note: The summary blurb is from Jonell's website and the cover art is from barnesandnoble.com.


  1. Picking this up at the library ASAP!!! Thanks for the review :)

  2. You are very welcome! I'm sure you'll love it! :)

  3. it is a good book it is my favorite book of all of hundre books i ever read :)

    1. Oh, I'm so happy to hear that! It's one of my favorite books, too! (Rat is just so adorable and funny!) :)