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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A "Rootin' Tootin' Good Time" for Girls!

Emily's Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

A word of warning: don't let the cover fool you--this book is really fun!

Newbery Award-winning author Naylor sets off on a tale in the untamed west where Emily, a recently orphaned girl who has inherited an unexpected fortune, attempts to escape her greedy, conniving Uncle Victor. Though timid and used to sitting quietly indoors all day, she grits her teeth and sets off in a coach (with her trusty pet turtle in hand), hoping to live with her distant but kind-hearted aunt. Along the way Emily meets Jackson, an orphan and a street urchin, and together they find themselves running for their lives and working together to befuddle Uncle Victor. In Emily’s adventures she learns how to climb tall trees, sleep outdoors, and disguise herself as a boy, all the while growing from meek to self-sufficient, and it’s a fun transition to witness.

Fun illustrations appear throughout the text, as do enlarged captions and Wild West “rootin’ tootin’” phrases (such as "blinkin' bloomers") that lead readers from one chapter to the next. Naylor keeps the action fun and her characters funny, elaborating on genteel ladies as they complain about bumpy wagon rides and overly ambitious child-services agents. With smart, quirky character names like “Miss Catchum” of the Catchum Child-Catching Services and Emily’s helpful neighbors—Mrs. Ready, Mrs. Aim, and Mrs. Fire—Naylor maintains the ride throughout, keeping it entertaining. With the southern dialogue and western “slang”, it would make for a great class read-aloud. It’s a book that shows just how strong and smart a little girl can become without being too girly—and really, anyone who learns to appreciate a good tree climbing while "hootin' and hollerin'" is a-okay by me! 

Like I said before, the cover is a bit murky and unfriendly, and while it does depict some of the scenes in the book, it doesn't do the book justice. Give it a chance, especially with some fun-loving, even quiet, girls and boys. Let the giggling and western twang begin!

Emily's Fortune is currently out in hardcover, and the paperback edition is planned for this November.


Age 8-12
Copyright June 2010
ISBN: 9780385736169
Available as an eBook
Image from www.perma-bound.com

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