Apparently I've been living under rock because I was completely unaware of Emily the Strange: her books, her website, her fans, and her connection with skateboarding. So when I opened the latest Emily book, Emily the Strange: Piece of Mind (by Rob Reger and Jessica Gruner; illustrated by Rob Reger and Buzz Parker), I was introduced to a whole new world.
Emily is a Dark Girl, but not just any Dark Girl, she's the 13th Dark Girl who has just turned 13! Now is the time for her to find her personal source of power, called Black Rock. The only problem is, she doesn't know how to summon it and the manifestations of the previous 12 Dark Aunts can help only so much. It's up to Emily to use her intelligence and resourcefulness to solve the mystery of her own Black Rock.
Of course, this is no easy task. Emily runs up against her archenemy (a Shady Uncle) and meets her generation's Bright Girl. It takes all of Emily's talents and intelligence to outwit those who stand in the way of her birthright, and before the end, she is forced to contend with a few surprising twists and some young teens with powers of their own.
This fun story is told in the guise of Emily's diary, which is peppered with drawings, printouts, letters, and other great graphics. The scan is from pages 26-27 (click to enlarge), and will give you an idea of how visual the book is.
Although this is the fourth book in the Emily series, I had no problem catching on to the gist of the back story. Because the books are an offshoot of what started out as an icon used on skateboards and T-shirts, I suppose some of you will wonder about the commercialism of the Emily phenomenon. I'm not going to speak to that directly; instead I want to stress a couple of things.
First, I know my niece would have loved these books when she was in fifth or sixth grade (although the target audience is thirteen). Second, these book could be just the thing to get a reluctant young reader hooked on books. And finally, I like the philosophy behind Emily, as explained on the Emily the Strange website:
Today, Emily continues to be a voice for individualism and self-awareness, and her appeal is especially strong among alternative-minded young women and girls who identify with her signature singularity. Her presence in the worlds of art, pop culture, literature, and fashion celebrates non-conformist and reminds us all to cultivate that which makes us unique.Emily is smart, seeks self-fulfillment in being resourceful, and isn't focused on finding a boyfriend or being cool. I like those things about her. That's not to say I don't like middle grade books about friendships, fitting it, and boys, but it's good to know there are alternatives.
This review will be linked to Kid Konnection, hosted by Julie at Booking Mama.
Published by HarperCollins / Harper, 2011
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)