From the Publisher
“Fans will find plenty of adventure, fun, and all the rodents they could wish for.” School Library Journal
“More clever, rodent-filled fantasy featuring the irascible, irresistible Raston Rat and the extraordinary Emmy--and Bean's flip-book wizardry.” Kirkus Reviews
“Fans of the first book will be pleased.” Booklist
Jonell's (the Christopher and Robbie picture books) first novel is a lustrous affair, a droll fantasy with an old-fashioned sweep and a positively cinematic cast. The beginning will hook readers right away: the class pet, a rat, mocks the protagonist for being too good. "It doesn't get you anywhere," he tells her. "The only thing that happens is, you get ignored." When the teacher doesn't even seem to see the girl a few pages later, the rat has made his case for being bad, and Jonell has launched a truly labyrinthine plot involving prodigally endowed rodents and nefarious schemers with entangled pasts. Emmy, the heroine, must face down evil nanny Jane Barmy and win back the love of her parents, former booksellers who, since inheriting Great-Great-Uncle William's fortune, spend all their time jet-setting and buying themselves the very best of everything. Her challenge increases when the rat-freed by Emmy, one of the few characters who can hear him talk-accidentally shrinks her to his size. Jonell's villains aren't too frightening to be good targets for jokes, and the rat serves as an excellent comic foil. Occasionally the eccentricities of the plot sidetrack the action or otherwise bog down the pacing, but for the most part the narrative proceeds at an assured clip. To top off the fun, Bean (At Nightand The Apple Pie That Papa Baked, both reviewed above) decorates the margins with drawings that produce a flip-book effect: the rat falls from the bough of a tree, covering his eyes as he somersaults backward in mid-air to land in Emmy's outstretched hand. Ages 9-up. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Sharon Oliver
Emmy is invisible. At least, that is how she feels. Her formerly attentive parents have inherited a good deal of money and keep leaving on longer and longer trips. Her teacher cannot remember her name, and her classmates act like she is not there. The only one who seems to notice her presence is the classroom pet rat, and he is not happy with her either. After the rat bites her, Emmy is stunned to discover the rat can talk. It turns out that he is one of a group of rats with special powers being kept captive by the town's resident mad scientist, Professor Capybara, and he is in cahoots with Emmy's scheming nanny, Miss Barmy. When a boy in her class discovers he too, can hear the rat and talks to Emmy, they end up on a rollicking adventure to rescue the rats and undo Barmy's control over Emmy's parents before it is too late. This is a great can't-put-it-down action story. Jonell's characters are well fleshed out, including the standard evil villains. Emmy is definitely a heroine to root for, and there are moments of true humor mixed with some real peril on their adventures. Each page contains an illustration along the top edge that when flipped quickly, shows a rat falling from a tree limb. The only real quibbles with the book are the title and the cover art. The title is a bit misleading (the rat does not shrink, he shrinks other people) and is not quite in keeping with the fast-paced story. The cover is printed with old-fashioned looking art and dull oranges and blues. It is hardly eye-catching. This is a good addition to all collections, but you may have to push readers past the cover. Reviewer: Sharon Oliver
Children's Literature - Sue Poduska
Fun, exciting, and fanciful, this is the sequel to Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat. Friends Emmy and Joe visit the underground Rodent City through a series of rat bites and kisses, both magical. They encounter all manner of rodents and former humans, some of whom are pure evil and some of whom are being held captive in a diminutive state. The wicked Miss Barmy was Emmy's nanny before she became a rat. When Miss Barmy attempts to manipulate the residents of Rodent City, Emmy must stop her. She cannot let her new friends down. She learns to find her courage and to live with her guilt. Emmy's one goal for her summer vacation is to have a normal life. The rodents make that nearly impossible, but she still manages to make more human friends. The characters are wonderful and diverse. Partly because this is a sequel, the plot is sometimes difficult to follow, but you might not care. Reviewer: Sue Poduska
School Library Journal
In this sequel to Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (Holt, 2007), Emmy discovers the fate and whereabouts of the five missing girls pictured on evil Miss Barmy's cane. Although the woman is no longer Emmy's nanny-in fact, she is now a rat-her plots are as wicked as ever. Using the powers of their talented rodent friends to change sizes, the protagonist and her friends seek to thwart Miss Barmy's attempts to subvert the rodent community while also attempting to rescue the girls, who are the four-inch-high prisoners of Miss Barmy's nasty parents. Emmy's uncertainty about her ability to make human friends and about her role within the rodent community cause her to make bad decisions when these two worlds come in contact with one another; luckily, she redeems herself by the end. The plot moves in fits and starts, lacking the fizzy energy of the first book-possibly because the sassy Rat plays a smaller role this time-but fans will find plenty of adventure, fun, and all the rodents they could wish for.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Emmy Addison and her friends Joe (a boy) and Raston (a magic rat) return in this whirlwind sequel that picks up weeks after Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (2007) ended. School's out and Emmy wants to avoid her new rodent pals and "do regular ten-year-old things," so she can start fifth grade with lots of friends. But when her former nanny, the devious, despicable Miss Barmy, and Miss Barmy's adoring sidekick, Cheswick Vole, surface in Rodent City as ingratiating rats, Emmy senses trouble brewing: Miss Barmy plans to steal the Addison family jewels using five doll-sized little girls whom she has held prisoner in her parents' attic. Determined to save the missing miniature girls, Emmy and Joe shrink, transform into rats and enlist Raston and other rodent chums in sometimes hilarious, often breathtaking capers to thwart Miss Barmy. En route, Emmy learns the hard way the importance of being true to your friends, whether human or rat. More clever, rodent-filled fantasy featuring the irascible, irresistible Raston Rat and the extraordinary Emmy-and Bean's flip-book wizardry. (Fantasy. 9-12)
Read an Excerpt
EMMY AND THE HOME FOR TROUBLED GIRLS
EMMY ADDISON was an ordinary girl--almost.
She had straight dark hair, skinny legs with a scrape on one knee, and no particular talent that she knew of. If you didn't count the fact that her parents were rich (very), her best friend was a boy (and a soccer star), and she could talk to rodents (and they talked back), she was very ordinary indeed.
She hadn't been ordinary for long, but even just a few weeks were enough to convince her that she didn't want to be any other way. Since the middle of May, her teacher had actually remembered her name at school. The other kids had played with her at recess. And her parents had eaten supper with her, and asked how her day had been, and reminded her to brush her teeth, in the most normal way possible.
Emmy didn't want it to end.
So she made a list of all the things an ordinary ten-and-a-half-year-old should do during the summer. She posted it beside her bedroom window--theone in the turret--and she'd already managed to cross the first thing off the list. "Build a tree fort," it said, and just yesterday, she and her friend Joe had finished the best tree fort ever.
It was high--too high, her mother had worried, but her father had checked it for sturdiness, added a brace, and pronounced it safe. It was tucked snugly between three branches of the tallest oak in the woods behind Emmy's house, and from its platform she could look out over Grayson Lake and see sailboats skimming on Loon's Bay. Just now, though, she was flat on her stomach with her head hanging over the edge, watching Joe sprint up the path.
"Hiya!" Joe skidded to a stop beneath the big oak, a pale-haired boy in a blue soccer jersey and grass-stained shorts, and grinned up at Emmy, waiting.
"Password?" Emmy demanded.
"Oh, yeah. Um ... Rat Fink?"
"No, that was yesterday's." Emmy propped her chin on her forearms.
Joe scratched his freckled nose. "Hamster Hocks?"
Joe shot a glance over his shoulder. "Come on,Emmy. I dodged my little brother two blocks ago, but he's faster on his pudgy feet than he used to be."
"It's Mouse Droppings," Emmy said resignedly, throwing down one end of the rope ladder. "You'd think you could remember a password you thought up yourself."
"Sorr-ry," said Joe, grabbing the rope. "I've remembered a message for you, though."
Emmy looked down at him warily. "Who from?"
Emmy winced inwardly. How many girls, she wondered, got messages from chipmunks?
"She asked," Joe added, swaying as he climbed, "why you haven't come to visit. She has a new recipe for acorn soup, and says you're welcome anytime."
Emmy felt uncomfortable. She didn't want to seem ungrateful to the rodents who had helped her. Without the chipmunks, and the Rat, and all the rest, she would never have been able to get rid of Miss Barmy, the nanny who had nearly ruined her life.
But girls who visited chipmunks were--well, weird. It was okay for Joe; he was popular, he was the best athlete in the school, and everyone had known him since kindergarten; but for Emmy it was different.
She had been new at Grayson Lake Elementary last fall, when her parents had moved to the stone mansion on Loon's Bay. That was hard enough, but then Miss Barmy had used some unusual rodents to make Emmy's classmates, her teacher, and even her own parents forget that she existed. Emmy hadn't understood why her parents had suddenly seemed to stop caring about her or why all her attempts to make friends at school met with a blank stare.
If she hadn't discovered that Raston Rat, their fourth-grade class pet, had unusual powers, too; if she and Joe hadn't become friends, and shrunk to rat size; if they hadn't gone underground to Rodent City, where they joined forces with Professor Capybara and the chipmunks--then Miss Barmy might have succeeded in her plan to get rid of Emmy's parents, steal their money, and lock Emmy up for good in the Home for Troubled Girls.
But all had turned out well. Miss Barmy and her follower, Cheswick Vole, had been changed into rats themselves, Emmy's parents had become loving once more, and the kids at school had been as friendly as could be expected toward a girl they thought they'd just met. Still, though Emmy had had several weeksof being an ordinary kid, she had a lot of catching up to do before fifth grade.
She wanted to do regular ten-year-old things--go to birthday parties, and have sleepovers, and swim and bike and jump off swings in the park. She wanted to start fifth grade with a hundred friends--or, at any rate, more than one or two. She was going to be too busy this summer to spend time with a bunch of rodents, because she absolutely refused to go through another school year feeling lonely and invisible.
And of course there were a few more reasons why she wasn't keen on visiting Rodent City.
The tree house creaked as Joe clambered over the edge. "Free at last!"
"Did you win your game?" Emmy gazed idly at her house through the leaves, and her window in the topmost turret.
"Both games," said Joe gloomily. "So now we have to play two more tomorrow, before the championship." He rolled on his back to toss twigs at the large branch that overhung the platform. "At least I don't have to go to California on Monday. The soccer camp Dad tried to sign me up for was full."
"If you're sick of playing soccer," said Emmy reasonably, "just stop."
"It's not that I don't want to play. I just don't want to play every stupid day all year long, that's all." Joe sat up abruptly, his eye caught by a knothole above him. "It's funny," he said, "but ever since that stuff happened--you know, shrinking and all--"
Emmy nodded impatiently. Of course she knew.
"I like to check out every rat-sized crack I see." He chinned himself on the overhanging branch and pressed his eye to the hole.
Emmy leaned back. "Can you see anything?"
"Too dark. Next time I'll bring a flashlight."
"We should have a box up here for that kind of stuff. Flashlights--"
"And batteries," added Joe, dropping down with a thump.
"Hammer and nails," Emmy said, "and Band-Aids."
"Regular books, too," said Emmy, "especially ones about sailing--like Swallows and Amazons--"
"An astronomy book, so we can steer by the stars."
"I've got a telescope!" Emmy sat up. "We could use it for a spyglass--"
"And look out for pirates--"
"And buried treasure!"
"We'll make the pirates walk the plank, or"--Joe gripped his throat with both hands--"hang them from the yardarm."
Emmy rolled over to the edge, feeling for the ladder. "I'll get the spyglass."
"Get a bottle of ginger ale--no, grog--," Joe called, "and we can christen the ship!"
Emmy slammed the kitchen door behind her, sprinted up the stairs, and nearly collided with Maggie on the second-floor landing.
"Sorry," said Emmy, edging past the housemaid, who was emptying wastebaskets.
Maggie smiled broadly. "That's all right; I like to see a child run. It's better than watching you sit with your hands folded."
Emmy flushed. "I just did that when Miss Barmy made me act like a lady."
Maggie chuckled, pulling a section of the Grayson Lake News from one of the stacks. "Take a look; I saved this for you. Time enough to act like a lady when you're grown up and can wear these." She pointed to the society-column headline.
Emmy glanced at a picture of her parents, read "Addison Family Sapphires on Display at Grayson Lake Jewelers," and lost interest. She knew she was rich--Mr. and Mrs. Addison had inherited a lot of money a year ago, when her great-great-uncle William had died--but except for living in a house that looked like a castle, which was cool, she found the subject boring. "Maggie, please could I have a bottle of ginger ale? We want to christen the tree fort."
"That's a fine idea," said Maggie comfortably. "I'll check the pantry."
On a blue-painted windowsill in the northeast turret of the Addison mansion, a glossy black rat lay panting. He had never been in the best of shape, even when he was a human. Now that he was a rat, all the tunneling and gnawing and climbing that seemed to be expected of him was a bit much.
"You're getting too old for this, Cheswick," he muttered to himself.
But of course he was doing it for his darling Barmsie, whom he had adored for years. True, she was now quite a bit shorter than she had been--and hairier--with a prominent set of whiskers. And though her piebald blotches were interesting, and her long tailwas certainly nice and pink, she was no longer the beauty queen of former days.
But she was still his precious tulip, and he was glad to do anything she asked. Just now he was on a daring mission into enemy territory. Cheswick grasped the window-blind cord, slid into Emmy's bedroom, and trotted into the playroom. He took a brown rucksack from his shoulders and waded manfully into a pile of doll clothes.
He was stuffing whatever he could reach into his sack--a green-and-gold track suit, a glittery evening gown, a white fluffy thing he couldn't identify--when a vibration in the floor sent a shiver through his claws.
The black rat lifted his head alertly. Someone was pounding up the stairs, someone gigantic. He dropped the rucksack at once. If he had learned one thing in his few weeks as a rat, it was to avoid anyone who was large and thumping. In a moment, all that could be seen of him was his tail, disappearing beneath a toy chest; and in one moment more, the only sign of his presence was a small sack half full of Barbie clothes.
Emmy skidded into the playroom, dropped the newspaper, and rummaged in her toy chest. Notelescope there ... She checked in the science cupboard, and the art cabinet, and behind the carved Austrian dollhouse. It wasn't on any of the shelves lining the room from floor to ceiling; and it wasn't rolling among the balls and hockey sticks. Emmy peered inside all twenty-three Lego bins, and wished (not for the first time) that she didn't have so many toys. It was embarrassing when people came to visit; and when she tried to find something, it took forever.
Emmy turned in a circle. Now, if she were a telescope, where would she hide?
She gazed at her model train set with its miniature town, and then her eyes returned to the toy chest. Might it have rolled under there?
Emmy reached beneath. "Come on, spyglass," she muttered, and gave a cry of triumph as she grasped something long and skinny. She pulled it out, covered in dust, and sneezed.
It was not the telescope after all. It was Miss Barmy's old cane, the cane she had whittled herself. It was carved with little faces, their hair intertwined and their expressions pleading, and Emmy recoiled as she saw it.
Miss Barmy had told her that they were the faces of girls she had taken care of. She had said that she was saving a blank patch for Emmy's face, someday ...
Every grown-up who had seen the cane told Emmy she was lucky to have such a creative nanny. But something about the little faces had always bothered Emmy; and, whatever might have happened to the other girls carved on the cane, Emmy was terribly glad it had not happened to her.
Emmy stalked to her window, lifted the screen, and hurled the cane over the lawn and straight at the trees. She watched with deep satisfaction as the awful thing speared into a bush at the edge of the woods.
Good. Let it stay there and rot.
A small grating sound drew Emmy's eyes back to the playroom as the telescope rolled slowly out from beneath the toy chest.
Emmy looked at it, startled. How--? Oh, it must have been dislodged by the cane that she'd just pulled out. She jammed the spyglass into an old backpack and ran down to the pantry with a light heart.
"Here you go," said Maggie, tucking a plastic bottle in Emmy's backpack. "Now, don't forget, Emmy--come in early tonight. There's company coming."
"Who is it, Maggie?"
"Peter Peebles. You do remember Mr. Peebles, don't you?"
Emmy grimaced. She remembered him, all right. He was the lawyer who had helped Miss Barmy draw up the papers she had tried to get Emmy's parents to sign--papers that would have sent Emmy to the Home for Troubled Girls and given Miss Barmy total control if Emmy's parents died.
"Now, child, don't make a face. You know that Mr. Peebles was tricked right along with your parents."
Emmy nodded politely. But deep down, she couldn't help feeling that anyone who would help a person like Miss Barmy had to have something wrong with him.
"And don't you worry about that horrible Miss Barmy, either," said Maggie. "She's long gone and far away, and she's not likely to bother you ever again."
Two stories up, Cheswick brushed off his paws (the spyglass had been dusty), pattered onto the newspaperEmmy had left behind, and read slowly, swinging his dark furry head from side to side.
He bared his yellow incisors and clipped out the society column with small, neat bites. And a moment later he shouldered the rucksack and was on his way to his beloved Miss Barmy, who was not nearly so far away as Maggie believed.
EMMY AND THE HOME FOR TROUBLED GIRLS. Text copyright © 2008 by Lynne Jonell. Illustrations copyright © 2008 by Jonathan Bean. All rights reserved. Distributed in Canada by H.B. Fenn and Company Ltd. For information, address Square Fish, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.