Another Day as Emily- by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.
Rating: 5 (starred review)
Genre: Realistic fiction in verse
What did you like about the book? This book was quietly charming. Suzy has a full and fun life, with a loving family, interesting neighbors, a somewhat-annoying little brother, and a loyal best friend. But a series of difficulties and disappointments leads her to decide to emulate Emily Dickinson by retreating to her room and cutting herself off from the activities she enjoys, even her beloved Phillies. Young readers will identify with Suzy and her disappointments, and find her a likable, realistic character. The format works perfectly for this kind of novel and may engage reluctant readers. The drawings scattered throughout the book truly enhance the story, and Suzy’s gradual realization that Emily’s world is not for her draws the book to a satisfying conclusion.
Anything you didn’t like about it? It feels a bit like splitting hairs, but Suzy does not begin to retreat into Emily’s world until at least two-thirds of the way through the novel. It might have been better if the description on the dust jacket did not jump right to this plot element, because readers find themselves waiting for it to happen, and a great deal goes on before we get to this point.
To whom would you recommend this book? Read-alikes? Elementary school girls who are moving beyond early chapter books might really enjoy this title, as the verse format makes it less daunting than a typical middle-grade novel. Also recommend Eileen Spinelli’s other novel in verse, Where I Live. Readers who enjoyed The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall and Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo may be drawn to Emily as well, as all of these titles feature loving families without being sticky-sweet. Finally, Emily might be a good recommendation for anyone who is unfamiliar with novels in verse and wants to give one a try. It could be a gateway to more complex novels such as Heartbeat by Sharon Creech, and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school libraries and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Middle-grade fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Definitely somewhere in the pile, but not necessarily right on top.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renee Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA
Date of review: December 16, 2014