fiction favorites…Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, by Lynne Jonell, art by Jonathan Bean

The faint noises from the street were suddenly muffled as the heavy velvet dropped behind her, and in the silence she could hear a rustling as every animal in the cages — or so it seemed — turned to face her.
Cage after cage held some kind of rodent, from the Giant Rat of Sumatra to the tiniest vole, each with its own label.  Emmy…caught sight of a very small mouse with big ears and huge, dark eyes.  It looked appealingly at her and touched one small paw to the bars of its cage.

 Emmy squatted on her heels, peering in.  What a tiny thing, and so pretty!  Its fawn-colored fur looked as soft and light as dandelion fuzz.  Longing to hold it in her hands, Emmy ignored all the warnings Miss Barmy had ever given against touching strange animals and put one finger between the bars.

The little mouse curled its tail up tight.  It looked at Emmy, its enormous brown eyes thoughtful.  And then it reached out a paw and patted Emmy’s finger exactly three times in quick succession…Emmy sucked in her breath…”Can you speak?” she whispered.
The mouse looked at her attentively but said nothing.  Emmy lifted her tag that was attached to the cage. “Endear Mouse,” she read aloud.
Emmy had heard of deer mice before, but never an endear mouse.  “Must be a misprint,” she decided, turning the tag over.  And there, on the other side, in very small type, she read:  “Endear Mouse.  Makes the absent heart grow fonder.  Use as directed.  Satisfaction guaranteed.

Emmy is an exceedingly good girl who lives under the care of an exceedingly rotten nanny, Miss Barmy.  Strangely, as sweet a girl as Emmy is, she is utterly overlooked by everyone in her sphere — parents, teachers, classmates. It’s as though she’s invisible.   Ever since her formerly-loving parents inherited gobs of money and an old mansion, things have taken a turn for the strange, the miserable, the lonely.  If you think it sounds like something fishy is going on, you are oh so right!

How Emmy joins forces with a talking rat, a star soccer player, the homely clerk at The Antique Rat, and a strategic family of chipmunks to outwit the dastardly plots of Miss Barmy and company, is the delightful, page-turning plot of this book.  This story has it all — fresh, likable characters, abrupt plot twists, humor, suspense, sinister villains, a clipping pace, and a highly satisfying ending.

I read quite a number of titles this summer, working through some that have been on my To Read list for quite awhile, and others which I just plucked off the shelf, curious.  This was definitely one of my favorites.   Highly recommended for a family read-aloud, or for sturdy readers ages 9 or 10 and up.  It packs 350 pages of pleasure.  Don’t miss the flipbook movie of the rat, drawn by Jonathan Bean, who tumbles out of the tree if you flip the pages fast and watch carefully. There are a couple of sequels already, which get good reviews, and (drum roll, please) Lynne Jonell is from Minnesota!  So.

Here’s an Amazon link: Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat