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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
Emma-Jean Lazarus is strange.
No, she is not strange.
She is definitely not a drama queen. She has an inherited "talent" for analyzing things. She takes after her father who died two years previously. He died on the way home after giving a presentation of his award-winning paper on the famous mathematician, Jules Henri Poincare. Poincare believed that the most complex problems could be solved through creative thinking.

Emma- Jean, with some help from others at William Gladstone Middle School, tries to unobtrusively solve the typical traumatic problems of middle school. Colleen, her sensible classmate, is the first one that is helped. Colleen, a seventh grade classmate of Emma-Jean, is the last person Emma-Jean expects to be crying in the bathroom. Emma-Jean really wants to help and uses her creativity.

The humor of the book develops from the tug of war between the emotional and analytical. I am proud of the character of Emma-Jean. I am also proud of this first-time author, Lauren Tarshis. The only flaw, if there is one, is that the author should not have stressed that Emma-Jean is a straight-A student. That seems too trite and distracts from Emma-Jean's creative qualities. The sequel is coming very soon (shhh - the title will be Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love).


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