When I was first presented with a novel written in blank verse, I was rather surprised. I had never encountered a novel with such a format before. When I began to read the book I was immediately hooked. Since then I have read several novels written in blank verse and my favorites are those written by Eileen Spinelli. I was therefore thrilled when I got her latest creation in the mail and I read the entire book one afternoon in one sitting. It is a delightful story, one that I think readers of all ages will enjoy reading.
Another Day as Emily
Another Day as Emily
For ages 9 to 12
Random House, 2014, 978-0-449-80987-7
The summer vacation has begun and Suzy has so much to look forward to. Among other things there is the Fourth of July, her twelfth birthday (when she is going to go to a ball game), bike rides, and Tween Time at the library. Not to mention time spent with her friends Alison, Mrs. Harden, and Gilbert.
One morning Suzy’s little brother Parker decides to ride his trike to Mrs. Harden’s house, which he is not allowed to do unless he tells someone first. Which he forgets to do. Normally Parker would get into trouble for doing this, but on this occasion he doesn’t. When he gets to Mrs. Harden’s house he sees that she is lying on the floor and that she is in trouble. Remembering what he learned in safety class, Parker dials 911. Suzy arrives just as Parker is saying “Emergency! Emergency!” into the phone. Suzy holds Mrs. Harden hand until the ambulance arrives and worries about the old lady, who is her “honorary grandmother.”
Thankfully Mrs. Harden is all right, and Parker becomes a local “little hero.” He is interviewed for the local newspaper, is sent all kinds of gifts, and the mayor invites Parker to be in the mayoral car during the Fourth of July parade. Not surprisingly all this attention goes to Parker’s head. He decides that he is a “big hero” and he becomes rather insufferable.
Suzy’s summer does not improve after this incident. Instead it gets worse. People, including Suzy’s mother, keep making a fuss over Parker. Gilbert is accused of being a thief even though there is no proof that he stole anything, and when Suzy and Alison audition for parts in a play, Alison gets a part but Suzy doesn’t. On Suzy’s birthday Parker disappears and Suzy’s dad has to cancel their baseball game trip because they have to look for Parker.
Suzy decides that there is only one thing to do. She is going to stop being Suzy and she is going to start being Emily Dickenson. Suzy has been learning about Emily for her Tween Time people-from-the-1800’s project and she knows enough about the poet that she decides that being a recluse is just what she needs. Suzy gets some white dresses, she refuses to go out or use the phone, and she tries to spend her days doing what Emily Dickenson did. At first the novelty is enjoyable, but then Suzy starts to get lonely.
Written using a series of blank verse poems, this delightfully sweet, poignant, and gently funny story will give readers a peek into the heart of a twelve-year-old girl. Suzy is starting to grow up and she is struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants. Her quirky personality and kind heart make her easy to identify with, and readers will find themselves hoping that Suzy finds her way.