Even though Emma has never thought of herself as especially brave, when Jared Matthews takes her friend EllRay's plastic action figure and threatens to break the wings off, Emma jumps into the fray, grabbing the toy and yelling, "Quit it, you big bully." Instead of thanking Emma, now EllRay's mad at her, and the kids in her class are calling her Super Emma, but not in a nice way, because they say she did a "boy-thing." Then Jared threatens to get even with her when everyone on the playground will be watching—he’s planning to dump her in a garbage can. Emma doesn't know if she's brave enough to handle Jared, but she doesn't want her mom to get involved, either. Emma's present tense narrative will be compelling to kids who have coped with similar problems. Readers will probably understand why EllRay is mad at Emma—it’s a bit of a testosterone thing—but they’ll also be relieved when he helps her in the end. What does it mean to be brave? Children will recall times they've been brave or not so brave and what the consequences were. Speaking of garbage cans, see how another resourceful girl deals with bullies and garbage in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Roxie and the Hooligans.
Reviewed by JF.
Themes: BULLIES. FRIENDSHIP. SCHOOLS & SCHOOL STORIES. TEACHERS.
Suggested Ages: 6-9