Emmy and the Home For Troubled GirlsTitle: Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls
Author: Lynne Jonell
Illustrated: Jonathan Bean
ISBN: 9780805081510
Pages: 358 pages
Publisher/Date: Henry Holt and Company, c2008.

Emmy Addison was an ordinary girl–almost.
She had straight dark hair, skinny legs with a scrape on one knee, and no particular talent that she knew of. If you didn’t count the fact that her parents were rich (very), her best friend was a boy (and a soccer star), and she could talk to rodents (and they talked back), she was very ordinary indeed. (1)

For fans of the first book in the series, Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, Lynne Jonell’s Emmy and the Home for Troubled Girls starts off about a month later. Emmy is looking forward to being a normal girl this summer, now that things are back to normal. But no matter how much she tries to distance herself from the rodent community in an effort to make human friends, Miss Barmy is still on the loose, and five girls are still missing. In fact, Miss Barmy has convinced everyone that she has changed, and is planning a beauty paegant for the whole community. Emmy doesn’t believe it for one second, and sets off to discover the secret plan that involves stolen jewels by shrinking herself once again. When Sissy gets injured and Emmy blames herself, will Emmy and her friend Joe be stuck in the rat world forever?

This is a sequel, and maybe that’s why I’m liking the first book a little better than this one, because all the surprises are in the first one. In the second, readers know Miss Barmy is bad business, we know Emmy can speak to rodents, and readers know about the rats powers. While there are some new characters introduced, it seems like they are added to extend the story and not to adhance the plot. And while it’s a mystery what Miss Barmy is doing until the very end, the evil plan takes way too long to unfold. One thing that hasn’t changed from the original is the artwork, with the return of the flipbook style pictures just as delightful as the first. Instead of being excited about the possibility of a third book, the “and they all lived happily ever after” ending was a let-down, and leaves me frustrated and unsatisfied with the ultimate conclusion. Fans of the first will obviously clamor for the second, but I found it unsatisfying in the end, which lacked the clever and unpredictable plot of the first one.