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Another Day as Emily

Another Day as Emily

5.0 2
by Eileen Spinelli

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"Taut, fast-paced, economical, devoid of sham, Spinelli’s book echoes Dickinson’s own deceptive simplicity."--The New York Times Book Review

Eleven-year-old Suzy just can't win. Her brother is a local hero for calling 911 after seeing their elderly neighbor collapse, and only her best friend was able to win a role in the play they both


"Taut, fast-paced, economical, devoid of sham, Spinelli’s book echoes Dickinson’s own deceptive simplicity."--The New York Times Book Review

Eleven-year-old Suzy just can't win. Her brother is a local hero for calling 911 after seeing their elderly neighbor collapse, and only her best friend was able to win a role in the play they both auditioned for. Feeling cast aside from all angles, Suzy sees a kindred spirit in Emily Dickinson, the subject of her summer project. Suzy decides to escape from her disappointments by emulating the poet's life of solitude: no visitors or phone calls (only letters delivered through her window), no friends (except her goldfish, Ottilie), and no outings (except church, but only if she can wear her long white Emily dress).

But being a recluse is harder than Suzy predicted. Will she find a way to fold Emily into her life while also remaining true to herself?

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—After her five-year-old brother has been labeled "a little hero" for making a lifesaving 911 call, Suzy struggles to find relevance in her own life. Bad luck is coloring her whole summer, and she responds by emulating the day-to-day life of Emily Dickinson, whom she has been researching for her library project. The old tomboy Suzy loved baseball, riding her bike, and engaging in friendships with people of all ages and interests. As Emily, she wears only long white dresses, never leaves the house, and tries to find meaning in the domestic arts. Being Emily proves to be more challenging than Suzy ever imagined, and eventually she's not sure how to start being herself again. Spinelli sensitively explores the complexity of Suzy's feelings during a challenging time in her life. Middle-grade readers will relate to her familial frustrations, as well as her growing self-awareness and its impact on social dynamics. Spinelli's novel-in-verse approach creates a gentle, quiet atmosphere for this contemplative novel, though the verse is more successful in tone than as poetry. The condensed format makes it an excellent choice for reluctant readers.—Juliet Morefield, Multnomah County Library, OR
The New York Times Book Review - Ellen Handler Spitz
A child's perspective shines through Another Day as Emily. Told in paragraph-long verse (reminiscent in length of much of Dickinson's work), the story reads like poems run together. Taut, fast-paced, economical, devoid of sham, Spinelli's book echoes Dickinson's own deceptive simplicity.
Publishers Weekly
Spinelli’s third novel in verse (after Summerhouse Time and The Dancing Pancake) explores identity, friends, and family with perception and humor. The fast-moving story is told in the fresh voice of Suzy Quinn, who is jealous of the attention heaped on her four-year-old brother, Parker, after he calls 911 to summon help for an elderly neighbor. Spinelli gives Suzy credible dimension as she reacts to Parker’s newfound celebrity (“I really don’t know/ how much more/ of this little hero stuff/ I can take”) and then to the news that her brother has gone missing, derailing her 12th birthday plans (“What kind of sister am I?/ Mad that Parker is missing/ instead of worried”). Suzy’s sense of self is further shaken when she fails to land a role in a play, which leads her to mimic—with amusing vigilance—the lifestyle of Emily Dickinson and shun family and friends. Spinelli tempers Suzy’s melancholy with her inadvertent wittiness (“Who could have thought/ being a recluse/ could be so/ exhausting!”) to create a thoughtful, reflective story. Art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Illustrator’s agency: MB Artists. (May)
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
The summer that Suzy turns twelve (“the big one-two”), she is thrust unwillingly into the shadow of her four-year-old brother, Parker, who becomes the toast of the town as the “little hero” who called 911 when a neighbor collapsed onto the floor. Suzy now understands all too well what her idol Emily Dickinson was talking about when she penned her famous lines “I’m nobody. Who are you?” Suzy’s feelings of nobody-ness only increase when her best friend, Alison, seizes the limelight as an aspiring actress. What can Suzy do except emulate Emily and become a notable recluse herself, refusing to leave the house, wearing only white dresses, lowering fresh-baked gingerbread out of the window to neighborhood children in a little basket, and passing the day in the company of her pet (with the role of Emily’s dog, Carlo, played by Suzy’s goldfish, Ottilie?) Told in hundreds of very short poem-like bursts (appropriate for an Emily-inspired novel), Spinelli’s story is both comical and poignant, with deep appeal for anyone who has ever stubbornly trapped herself into an identity she now wants to renounce, but does not know how. The story’s enormously satisfying conclusion is (fittingly) a poem of Emily’s that shows Suzy how to find her way back to herself. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.; Ages 8 to 12.
Kirkus Reviews
Spinelli's free verse presents a summer of self-acceptance for one girl. Suzy is almost 12 when her 4-year-old brother sees their elderly neighbor collapse. He dials 911 and becomes a "little hero" in their town. Suddenly everything revolves around him, and no one seems to care about Suzy's needs. Worse, she doesn't get a part in the community play, but her best friend, Alison, does. Suzy is feeling decidedly unloved and decides that her best bet is to emulate a poet she has recently learned about—Emily Dickinson. Suzy insists on being called Emily and makes a list of Emily-appropriate activities (write poems, dust, read, listen to crickets). But Suzy soon finds that being a recluse is a lonely occupation. Lots of white space on the page, short chapters and appealing illustrations make this an unintimidating read for even the most reluctant readers. And besides, it's a rollicking good story. Spinelli mixes dollops of wit with her dabs of pathos to keep things lively and realistic in a fresh way that nevertheless feels comfortably old-fashioned. The interspersed bits of history (the origin of baseball, some famous people of the 1800s) and wholesome activities (bicycle riding, helping neighbors, going to the library) make this a story to be enjoyed and appreciated by readers weary of the mall-shopping, cellphone-centric, mean-girl genre. A witty and endearing story with a timeless message. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
420L (what's this?)
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

EILEEN SPINELLI is the popular, critically acclaimed, and beloved author of nearly 50 children's books. Among these are the middle-grade novels Summerhouse Time and The Dancing Pancake and picture books such as Cold Snap and Princess Pig. Eileen and her husband live in Western Pennsylvania.

JOANNE LEW-VRIETHOFF graduated from the Art Center College of Design in 1995 and began her career creating characters for children's television. In 1997 she became the art director for New York's DiVision Studio, creating award-winning designs for various hi-profile clients. Since then she has moved to the Netherlands where she continues to forge her talents as a designer and illustrator. Joanne is married and has two children.

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Another Day as Emily 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This_Kid_Reviews_Books More than 1 year ago
This was another great novel-in-verse from Eileen Spinelli. The verse is in a style that I think makes the story read like a diary or journal. I like how Mrs. Spinelli writes the story so you can really understand how Suzy/Emily feels about the stuff going on in her life. I think Suzy/Emily went a bit over-the-top in handling her problems, but at least it was inventive! ;) The problems Suzy is having is pretty much what a lot of middle school aged kids have and I think it makes the characters more realistic. I thought it was cool to learn a bit about Emily Dickinson too from the story. I’ve heard of her and read some of her poetry, but this story taught me about Emily Dickinson as a person. It was a quick read for me, but the story felt complete when I was done. I think this book is terrific for young advanced readers and middle-grade readers will enjoy reading about characters that are a lot like them. There are random black and white, small illustrations scattered in the book by Ms. Lew-Vriethoff. They are a nice addition to the story. *NOTE I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review