Reviews for Emma-jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree

AudioFile Reviews 2008 April/May
Seventh-grader Emma-Jean has always maintained an emotional distance from the messy life around her. In fact, she behaves like a scientist observing creatures under a microscope. So when she's asked for help in combating one of her school's mean girls, Emma-Jean attacks the problem in her usual logical fashion. Narrating from the alternating perspectives of aloof Emma-Jean and kind, vulnerable Colleen, who wants only to be popular, Mamie Gummer skillfully distinguishes the diverse cast that makes up Emma-Jean's world. Gummer has obviously inherited a facility for accents from her mother, Meryl Streep. She gives each character a subtly distinct voice while sustaining the detachment that is quintessential Emma-Jean. S.G. (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 October

Gr 5-8-- Emma-Jean Lazarus is like no other middle-school girl you have ever met. She doesn't do messy friendships. She doesn't waste a thought on boys. Most astonishing of all, she doesn't care what her peers think about her. So of course, Emma-Jean Lazarus is the freak of William Gladstone Middle School. She takes after her deceased father, a mathematical wizard, and his hero--French mathematician Jules Henri Poincare. Emma-Jean believes "even the most complex problems could be solved through a process of creative thinking." When Emma-Jean discovers Colleen sobbing in the girl's restroom over an encounter with the school's "female alpha chimp," she steps in, uses the power of logic, and solves her classmate's problem. Bolstered by her success, Emma-Jean looks around for other people to assist. The results are disastrous. Real life--and real emotions--are simply too complex. Emma-Jean moves from being the observer to being involved. As Poincare said, "It is by logic that we prove, but it is in our hearts that we discover life's possibilities." In her first novel (Dial, 2007), Lauren Tarshis has created an original character who will delight youngsters. Narrator Mamie Gummer, daughter of Meryl Streep, delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance. Her Emma-Jean is Rainman-like in voice, and adults might ponder the possibility of Emma-Jean having a touch of autism. Younger listeners will simply listen and relish this wonderfully crafted story. Booktalking will be necessary to overcome the dreadful cover art. A superb addition to audiobook collections.--Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK

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