Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree

For the past two years, Anna has been longing, longing, longing to be a part of the Mother-Daughter book club at our library.  It is for girls in 4th through 6th grade.  She’s been waiting and waiting and now, tonight, will be her first opportunity to participate.

She is beyond excited.

And I, her mother, almost forgot to sign us up.

That would have been very bad. Fortunately, I did remember, so the library gave us a copy of the book we’re discussing this month – Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, by Lauren Tarshis.

I’m always a little leery of book club books.  I don’t know why.  I guess I’m a little nervous because I’m not familiar with the title, the author, or the plot.

Anna read it first and was so excited when a character in the book called Emma-Jean “Nancy freakin’ Drew” because she knew that literary reference.  When she was done, she told me I would really like the book.

I picked up the book yesterday afternoon, since I almost forgot that I had to read it too, in order to participate in the Mother-Daughter book club.

I discovered it is absolutely delightful!  (I was tempted to use italics in that sentence too, but decided I’ve really already overused them.)

Tarshis does a wonderful job in this book.  At first I thought it was going to be all from Emma-Jean’s perspective, but there are a few chapters from Connie’s perspective (a 7th-grade classmate of Emma-Jean’s).  The change in voice is complete, and the drama makes me giggle.  Emma-Jean’s helpful solutions to her classmates’ problems are… well, logical if not a tad bit unethical (which she realizes toward the end of the book).

I think my absolute favorite part is the letter Emma-Jean writes to the mother of the man who rents their 3rd-floor apartment.  I laughed out loud when I read it.

All in all, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree is a great book for any 4th grader on up to read.  Probably girls would like it a bit more than boys, since the main characters are girls. But boys could appreciate the logic with which Emma-Jean approaches life and relationships.

I also think this book gave me a little insight as to how to interact with my younger daughter, who is probably a bit like Connie.  Bonus!

Double bonus!  Tarshis wrote a sequel: Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love.

(And it’s just as deliciously delightful as the first.)

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