Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Horvath pens a charming tale of 11-year-old Emily, independent of spirit and determined to make her mark. When new sixth grade teacher Mr. Van (aka Sir Galahad) encourages Emily Ann to write poetry, she is both flattered and afraid. It's her secret desire to be a poet, but is she brave enough to reveal her true feelings? Although conventionally plotted, this novel of a Missouri schoolgirl in the Depression era boasts some delightful features, especially the character of irritating Ruby, who yearns to be Emily Ann's best friend and brags that "when I was born I was so little I could fit into a cigar box." And a subplot features a touching friendship with the less fortunate Violet Rose, to whom Emily and her mom play "fairy godmother." The only drawback is the sporadic intrusion of an adult tone in the sixth-grader's first-person narrative, as when Emily Ann ponders existential questions before composing a poem: "Where did this urge to write come from? Did it really come from Grandpa? I had thought it was something that I had discovered for myself!" Still, the story draws to a worthwhile climax as Mr. Van, without Emily Ann's knowledge, brings about her first recognition as a poet. Through the eyes of a spunky protagonist, the author assuredly weaves universal themes of preadolescence into a historic framework. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
No matter what the summer brings, Emily always looks forward to the beginning of school. School means being back with friends, having exciting things to do and seeing her friend Peggy. Peggy and Emily didn't see each other during the summer so their reunion in September was very important. This September was also important because it would be Emily's final year in elementary school. Being a sixth grader was an important milestone and Emily did not want it to pass unnoticed. She has decided that this year she must do something important that will make her famous. Emily is not prepared for losing her best friend, and getting a new teacher-a male teacher no less. The adventures that follow as Emily declares that she is a poet and carries out her mission to be famous, at least at Park School, make for a very interesting year. The story is well presented and will appeal to boys and girls alike.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 5-7Emily Ann Campbell has trouble imagining any place hotter than Missouri. "The equator. The inside of a volcano. H-e-l-l, if the preachers are right." Although she is glad to leave the heat of summer behind her, she has mixed feelings about beginning sixth grade this year, the year of our Lord 1938. She knows she wants to leave her mark on Park School, but surprises even herself when she tells her new teacher that she writes poetry. Emily Ann's pithy, first-person narrative chronicles the year as she stretches herself to live up to her claim and thus discovers writing. Emily Ann emerges as an engaging character who envies a classmate's store-bought clothes, has compassion for a friend in poverty, and comments on everything from romance to classic authors ("Nobody told me how wordy Sir Walter Scott was"). Terms and phrases sprinkled throughout (a Big Chief tablet, someone who has "gone to her reward") help to evoke the period. Readers who enjoyed Joanne Rocklin's For Your Eyes Only (Scholastic, 1997) will welcome another exploration of a young poet finding her own voice with the help of a gifted teacher.Faith Brautigan, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
Set in Missouri in 1938, Horvath combines old-fashioned charm with timeless relevance. Narrator Emily Ann Campbell, 11, wants to leave her mark at Park School before she moves on to middle school. Through the quiet but firm demands of her new teacher, Mr. Van, Emily discovers how to go about doing just that. Mr. Van puts Emily to work writing poems, and as she composes in the hush of her family's abandoned barn, she learns about the power of wordsþthat they can "bottle" moments. She also discovers that words can hurt, when she creates a mean-spirited Valentine to the class "pain" that is intercepted by Mr. Van. Emily is a bright, motivated, and engaging narrator. Through her, Horvath demystifies the rhythm and romance of writing poetry, in an accessible story sure to make its own mark. (Fiction. 8-12)