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 Night and 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.)[Page 90]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Gr 3-6-- Emmy Addison was perfectly happy as the daughter of bookstore owners--and then her parents inherited a lot of money and she suddenly became invisible. She can't understand why her formerly attentive and loving mother and father keep taking off for faraway places and leaving her in the hands of an incredibly controlling nanny named Miss Barmy. And no one at school seems to know she exists. Then, she is bitten by the classroom rat and discovers that she can understand every word he says, as can Joe, one of the cool kids in her class who was also bitten. At this point, events start to unfold and a fast-paced adventure begins. To Joe's chagrin, he discovers that a second bite makes a person shrink to the size of an action figure and Emmy discovers that Miss Barmy has been mixing animal essences together to control the Addisons' lives. With the aid of new animal friends, Emmy embarks upon a perilous path to undo the evil nanny's sinister plans. A mystery is cleverly woven into this fun and, at times, hilarious caper, and children are likely to find themselves laughing out loud during some parts. A medley of endearing characters adds to an already delightful read.--Robyn Gioia, Bolles School, Ponte Vedra, FL[Page 200]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.