A First Flight Reader, Level 4: Chapter Book
Finished: Jun. 27, 2012
First Published: 1999
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Genre: early chapter book, humour
First sentence: "Emma opened the envelope with shaking hands."
Publisher's Summary: Emma is contest crazy. The only problem is, she never wins anything. Then one day a huge crate arrives on her doorstep. This must be the best prize ever, thinks Emma. Breathless with excitement, she opens the crate to reveal - an emu!
What will Emma do with her remarkable new pet? And what on earth will her mother say?
Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my local library..
Reason for Reading: One of my goals this year is to finish reading Oppel's backlist.
This is an extremely satisfying early chapter book. Oppel's books nowadays are aimed more at teens and are rather dark and thought-provoking, that it is fun to see that when he started out writing his books were light-hearted and he has a wry sense of humour. To me, the humour in the book reads as if it were British humour which I find more comedic with it's tongue-in-cheek, sardonic wit. This is a fun, cute story that finds the main character and her friend, Howie, desperately trying to hide an Emu from her mother, that is until it escapes. Emma's obsession with contests, her letter that she has won the grand prize and an open ending leave this book wide open to have been the first in a sequel but Oppel never continued in that direction. However the open ending could have kids guessing for ages what would happen next.
The book is illustrated with line drawings on almost every page, though there are every now and then a two-page spread of pure text with no pictures. One thing I loved with the illustrations is that Emma and Howie have been drawn emu-shaped themselves, with regular torsos, their hips and thighs spread wide out to match the shape of the emu and this also is a charming humorous effect. Cute book that will appeal to both boys and girls.