Friday, April 27, 2007

Book Review: Children's Fiction

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis
Did you ever watch that wildlife show with Marlon Perkins that was on Sunday nights before "Wonderful World of Disney"? Marlon Perkins was so unflappable and smart, like a scholarly grandfather. Emma-Jean is sort of like Perkins, observing the behavior of her fellow 7th graders at William Gladstone Middle School. Their antics are quite messy and illogical, according to her. But they don't bother with her much, so she is free to observe them at her liesure. But one day she stumbles on Colleen Pomerantz crying her eyes out in the girls' bathroom, and Emma-Jean decides to see if she can apply her knowledge and intellectual abilities to solving Colleen's problem. To her great satisfaction, Emma-Jean's efforts are successful. This leads her to try to fix the problems of other students and some teachers at her school. What happens next teaches Emma-Jean a lot about matters of the heart and the mind.
It's hard for me to be subjective about this book. I devoured it in about a day and absolutely loved it. Though it is never stated, Emma-Jean displays many hallmarks of high functioning quirky kids on the autism spectrum. What is so cool is that Emma-Jean may be odd, but she is not really any stranger than the kids at the public school she attends. And by the end of the book, Emma-Jean takes her place among them - even though she is a bit odd, she finds a way to belong. Phew! Even thinking about it now makes me a little bit verklempt. I truly hope kids take to this book - it's got such a positive, affirmative message - we are all different, and we all belong.

1 comment:

miss pea said...

Chris--I have this one on my pile. I think I'll move it up a few spines b/c I love what you said about quirky kids fitting in.