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Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (Emmy and the Rat) Paperback – September 2, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: Emmy and the Rat (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Square Fish; Reprint edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312384602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312384609
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christopher Lingel on January 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I struggled with what to do with this book.

On the one hand, this was a book I devoured. I read it from start to finish -- I think I skipped a meal -- and was grinning the entire time.

What a fun story. Emmy, completely unnoticed by her classmates, ignored by her parents, mistreated by the nanny left in her charge, wants only her old life back: before her parents came into money. Nothing seems to have gone right. Her parents are now obsessed with long vacations and long hours, her classmates have forgotten her, and the class pet rat keeps talking to her. Yes, the rat talks. But only Emmy can hear him. All of these things bother Emmy, and in part because she has no clue why any of them have happened at all. But the answers are coming. And there's no predicting, at least at the beginning, as to what those answers are.

And therein lies the part of the book that I struggle with. Without going into details (risking spoilers), I will say simply this: rodents are incredibly powerful creatures. Rats, mice, gerbils, ferrets, you name it. Used wisely, they allow for so much. As plot devices go, I thought it was fun. Especially the professor who gets too close to one of his experiments and therefor falls asleep at the most inopportune moments. I suspect he would be able to solve the issue, except that every time he gets close....out like a light.

But the fun, quirky gimmick struggles. While tt has you smiling every time a new rodent is introduced -- this one makes people sleepy, this one makes them grow up faster, this one enables you to speak to animals -- something about it just doesn't seem to fit. The gimmick exists amid a conflict that is too real, and too sinister.
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Format: Hardcover
A diabolical nanny, a clever thoughtful little girl and a talking rat face off in this deliciously witty and intelligent story. Emmy is an exceedingly well-behaved girl who enjoyed life with her parents and had many friends before an inheritance from a great uncle brings an end to cozy family interactions and Emmy and her parents move to her Great-Uncle's mansion. Now Emmy attends a new school, her parents are always off traveling and Emmy is supervised by Miss Barmy, a very unpleasant and strange nanny who is constantly tearing down her self- esteem and giving her mysterious medicines, one turned her face orange. Her classmates and teacher hardly notice her, "Emma? Emmaline Addison?" Mr. Herbifore gazed out over the heads of his students. Emmy stood up. "No, I don't see her," he said into the phone. "Emmy walked forward and stood by the teacher's desk. What did she have to do, she wondered, bewildered. Throw firecrackers under his chair? Hang from the ceiling and make like a monkey? She tugged at the teacher's sleeve and spoke loudly in his ear. "Here I am, Mr. Herbifore." The teacher stared at her doubtfully. Oh? Are you sure?" One day, the classroom rat tells her that she is too nice, "A little meanness is good for the soul. I highly recommend it." At the end of an entertaining repartee that includes Rat's response to Emmy's surprised comment, "Rodents play soccer?" "Of course they play soccer, he snapped. What do you think they do for fun? Run about, frightening elephants? Scavenge in churches for crumbs? Really, your ignorance is appalling." Rat pleads with Emmy to release him from his cage and when she does this engaging story explodes with adventure, suspense, and humor.
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Format: Hardcover
Lynne has created an instant classic; it reminds me of my favorite stories like Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet and Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang. Her story has memorable characters that you'll love and enjoy right from the start and a storyline that combines mystery, magic, real life problems and wonderful, droll humor. It's delightful to watch Emmy break out of her "too goodness" to solve the mystery and to save her family. Not to mention saving not just herself but all of her newly made friends. It's gripping, its a bit scary, its funny and comforting. It is a satisfying read from beginning to end that I think kids and adults both would enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I use this book with both second and third graders and it is loved. The students fall in love or hate with the characters. I have used Jonell books as an anchor for reading and writing lessons. In reading the author wields her craft in vivid descriptions of the emotions of her characters; this is perfect for students on the autism spectrum to discuss exactly what these many emotions look like on a person's face. The book also builds vocabulary; we have many discussions as we enjoy the book. It is authentic learning at its finest! Crafts also include inference, foreshadowing, text-to-text connections (between her novels), compare and contrast; the list goes on and on. Students begin to dread seeing the bookmark move to the end of the book because they know this adventure is coming to a close. The students also love to watch the animation in the margin as you flick the pages of the book both forward and backward. Lynne Jonell is a jewel in our classroom every year!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Don't get me wrong - the book is funny, the heroine Emmy has all the right stuff, the many secondary characters are well realized and interesting, and the rodent characters are tremendously appealing. The rodent world is creatively realized, and the action and overall plotting, while sometimes manic, is maintained at a great and entertaining pace.

But, the author was so effective in creating "the cold-hearted nanny, Miss Barmy" and the heroine was so completely controlled and demoralized by that nanny that I initially feared that this book was going to be a lot darker and more despairing than I was really looking for. Ultimately, because Emmy was such an amusing and slyly witty observer of her own circumstances, and because Emmy's first contact with "the talking rat" established the Rat as a wildly interesting and fiendishly funny character, I knew that sooner rather than later the tone and pacing of the book would have to pick up, (which it does), and that Emmy would have to stand up for herself. Of course, once that happens the dark tone lightens to more of what I expect in a middle grade fantasy/actioner, and the book really takes off.

I can see kid readers really enjoying this book for any number of good reasons. Emmy is a strong and resourceful heroine. Her guy pal has a big enough role to be a draw. The Rat is comic gold. The fantasy/adventure aspects of the rodent world make for a fine alternate world read. The pacing is fast. The plot is a little twisty and bumpy in places, but easy enough to follow. There are a lot of funny throwaway lines and slightly edgy observations for perceptive readers. For a fun read the book has some depth and substance, which is not lost on kid readers.
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