Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls by Lynne Jonell

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Illus. by Jonathan Bean. Random House Australia, 2009. ISBN: 9781741663280 (pbk)
(Ages: 10-13)This intriguing book features Emmy, a girl who has made an amazing discovery. She has learnt how to communicate with rodents, and when necessary, shrink to a size where she can enter the active and vibrant rodent city.
In this second book in the series, Emmy and her best friend Joe and his little brother Thomas become involved with the plight of five girls who have mysteriously gone missing. Emmy's evil ex-nanny Miss Barmy became a rat in the previous story and is now suspiciously conspiring to ingratiate herself with the inhabitants of rodent city and Emmy wants to know why. Furthermore, the controlling Miss Barmy and her parents are secretly holding the five now miniature-sized girls captive in their attic.
In contrast to all of these bizarre circumstances, Emmy is attempting to befriend a group of girls from her school and bring a greater sense of normality into her life. But it is proving difficult with her frequent conversations with rats, chipmunks and other talkative rodents. Eventually Emmy achieves her goals with a great deal of teamwork from new and old friends and is able to overcome her embarrassment at her involvement in the rodent world. She learns to appreciate the support and friendship that the rodents provide and gains a new level of self acceptance in her life.
In this novel, American author Lynne Jonell has written a complex and detailed story with many twists and unexpected events. It may be helpful to readers to have completed the previous novel Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat to familiarise themselves with the many characters and settings in this book. Some of the language and references may suit an older primary school aged audience. The text size is larger than you might expect and could encourage children who may not otherwise attempt a book of this length. The illustrations by Jonathan Bean provide a flip book style effect which is a fun addition to the novel and the cover artwork is also appealing. A level of tension builds throughout the story and will inspire a capable reader to determine how Emmy and her friends resolve their many difficulties in a pleasing conclusion.
Louise Illingworth
Stella Maris Parish School