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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Another Day as Emily, written by Eileen Spinelli. Alfred A Knopf, Random House. 2014. $14.99 ages 8 and up

"On the way home
Alison hooks her arm
into mine.
"I know I'm a pain."
I don't say anything.
"A first-rate complainer.
Don't deny it, Sooze."
I don't deny it.
"It's in my DNA.
"Blame my Aunt Gertrude."

When her very special neighbor Mrs. Harden has a medical emergency and her little brother has the presence of mind to call 911, Suzy knows that things are going to change for her. Soon, Mrs. Harden is fine and back home. Parker is praised for his quick thinking; he is pretty proud of his hero status and doesn't mind flaunting it in front of his sister.

It appears there is no end to the accolades that come his way. He gets a special report in the local newspaper, and is the recipient of many gifts and surprises, including riding with the mayor in the Independence Day parade. He can be pretty obnoxious with his newfound status. In the midst of all the attention, Suzy holds onto the knowledge that she and her father are going to a Phillies game in honor of her 12th birthday. When Parker gets lost and everyone is out looking for him on the very day of the much anticipated ball game, Suzy berates herself for being mad at him for spoiling her time with her father. What rotten luck!

It's enough to make a young girl change her life course. Being part of the Tween Time library program with her best friend Alison allows Suzy to don the mantle of the reclusive Emily Dickinson in a program assignment. It is the perfect way to show the world that she needs no one, and she undertakes to become as much like the poet as she can. She wears white dresses, confines herself to the house, keeps away from friends and spends her time doing what Ms. Dickinson was known to do: write poetry, spend time in tune with nature, read. It can be a lonely life. Leave it to Mrs. Harden to come to the rescue with a special poem that allows a new outlook!

I like that Ms. Spinelli uses free verse once again to tell this lively and enjoyable story of a summer full of ups and downs. The illustrations add interest, and the writing is humorous and fresh. It makes reading accessible for those looking for a longer story; yet, the pace is quick. It is perfect for pre-adolescents trying to find their own sense of self, and their place in the world.

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