Yep, I’m reviewing last year’s books now! *gasp* Well, it’s not like I’m one of those people with a huge To-Be-Read stack (I wish… ), so I might as well go back in time to review “old” books.

I had been hearing about this book for ages, that it is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime for kids (which it is not) and some buzz about the cover. I really like the cover, and I don’t think that it turns off a young reader one bit. Frankly, I liked photographs on covers and drawings, just not watercolor paintings. This wouldn’t have turned me off at all.

The first question I had while reading the book is, “Is Emma-Jean real?” At first her voice was so unusual, so different than the average middle schooler, that I wondered if Lauren Tarshis had not ever been friends with a “nerd”, and was making assumptions. But then I realized on page 3 when Emma-Jean says “No, I do not think you are fine.” that Emma-Jean was different. Not just the “different” that people are proud of, but the unacknowledged and acknowledged at the same time kind of different. Basically, in kid-speak, Emma-Jean is different, but we can’t talk about it. I had a hard time believing that through out the entire book, not one mention by Emma-Jean of her “problem” is found. Elizabeth Lazarus seems like a pretty smart Mom to me, and I bet that she would have noticed.

That’s almost the only major problem I have with this book. I have one other big problem- the minimal humiliation, teasing, and jabs that Emma-Jean endures. You all know at least one person similar to Emma-Jean I bet. I know that I do. I doubted the few scenes that Emma-Jean is teased, and the ones that she is teased in just didn’t seem mean enough. I was her age once too, and my peers were cruel to people like her.

Okay, fuss over, you probably want to know what the book is about. I’ll give you a brief summary. Emma-Jean’s life is grieving over her father, a mathematician who died in a car accident. She won’t admit it, though. On top of it all, Emma-Jean still doesn’t understand her fellow seventh graders, or anything they do. Until… one day Colleen asks her for help and Emma-Jean takes the request a little bit too far.

Overall, I enjoyed the unusual voice and loved the alternating views between Colleen and Emma-Jean. Just like everyone knows an Emma-Jean, they also know a Colleen. Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree would be a tremendous book to read in class because it allows for students to grow in compassion for their peers.

I had some quirky experiences while reading this book. I was finishing it while some of my extended family was watching my cousin’s wedding, and I got to this one sad part while this beautiful music my uncle wrote played. I got very teary-eyed, and I don’t think that would have happened if I had been reading in silence. Seeing Lisa Yee on the back of the book was also fun. I noticed it while we were eating Christmas dinner, and half of me wanted to jump up and down yelling, “I know that author! That author knows who I am!”. I refrained from doing that and thought of a second, cooler way to say it. Saying “Oh, yeah, I know that author” nonchalantly would have been very cool, if I had had a chance to say it. πŸ˜‰

Hope you have a great week, and don’t forget to congratulate Laini Taylor on her… well, I’ll let it be a surprise!