Sunday, June 23, 2013

Emma Emmetts: Playground Matchmaker

Emma Emmets, Playground MatchmakerDevillers, Julia. Emma Emmets: Playground Matchmaker
27 June 2013, Razorbill
E ARC from

Emma has high hopes for fourth grade until she realizes that Isla is in her class-- the same Isla who compared her to a "poopy brown M&M" in kindergarten. She also has to deal with the insufferable Daniel, who was moved up from third grade because he is so brilliant. Luckily, Emma fixed one of her friends up with a boyfriend at summer camp, and her classmates are clamoring for her to use her "superpower" on them. Emma manages to pair up Otto and Leah, who both like fantasy books, and manages to rope Kevin into a "playground wedding" with her best friend, Claire. When Isla demands to be paired up with lacrosse playing soccer, Emma is at a lost... because Parker is in the 6th grade and doesn't even go to their school! She does her best, and while frantically trying to pair up everyone before the fall festival, finds a crush of her own (aside from superstar Jake LaDrake!).
Strengths: I really like this author's other series, Take Two and Liberty Porter. DeVillers is sort of a Carolyn Heywood of the new millenium. She must have a grade school age daughter, since she hits all the minutiae of 4th grade right on the head. Square dancing in gym with a boy who was a good foot taller than I was... had a bad flashback while reading this, it was so vivid.
Weaknesses: I found this disturbing. Even if fourth graders ARE this interested in romance, should we be encouraging them? There are some vague attempts to redirect girls, but a playground wedding? A ten year old writing "Emma LaDrake" in her notebook? Just made my skin crawl on a very personal level. If it were 7th graders, it would still be a bit uncomfortable. That said, I do remember trying to maneuver on the school bus so I could sit next to Shawn Bunger every morning...I just don't know. Any thoughts from people who deal with actual fourth graders?

The Popularity Papers: Book Five: The Awesomely Awful Melodies of Lydia Goldbltatt and Julie Graham-ChangIgnatow, Amy. The Awesomely Awful Melodies of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang ( The Popularity Papers #5)
5 March 2013, Amulet

After their cross country summer trip, Lydia and Julie are back home. For their birthdays, they want musical instruments so they can form a band—not because it’s a cool thing to do, but because they like music. Lydia gets a guitar, and Julie gets a drum set, and they both sign up for lessons and start to practice. When school starts, they reconnect with their friends, and reluctantly let Jane into their band so that she will stop talking about her break up with Chuck. Roland is in the bad as well, and the group gets a gig—at a six year old’s birthday party. It doesn’t go well, but they persevere. They go to one of Melody’s parties to figure out what “cool teenagers” would do, only to find that it’s one of Melody’s new project meetings, not a party. Eventually, the band decides to have their own party and have the Macrame Owls perform at that, where they are a success. Jane and Chuck get back together, and Julie and Roland start dating.
Strengths: Good family relationships, realistically drawn middle school incidents, and a nice mix of pictures and hand drawn text make these books really popular.
Weaknesses: Still can’t get over the fact that while most of the characters are drawn realistically, Julie’s nose takes up her entire face. Seriously. Whose nose goes all the way out to the outside  corners of her eyes? That seems odd, but it’s bothered me through all the books!


  1. 4th The girls do giggle about boys and like to read mild romances sometimes, but in my experience they don't actually start getting romantically involved until 5th/6th grade, and even then it's not common. That's not to say I haven't peeled apart a couple kids I'm pretty sure were 6th graders and we did have a 12 year old mom in the teen parents group at one point, but it's not common, thankfully. Most 4th grade girls are more obsessed with their girlfriends and all the friend drama than prospective boyfriends. Come to think of it, I've met more 6 year olds with "boyfriends" than 9 year olds.

  2. I heartily agree with you about 4th graders and over doing it with romance. Let them enjoy their childhood as long as they can!

  3. Anonymous11:44 AM EDT

    When my daughters were in grade four it was common to start going out. It really surprised me....and this was many many years ago. Almost twenty, in fact. They were more in the giggle about boys stage not so much the going out stage, but many many were "dating". Kids that I have met in this grade are doing the going out thing still. This basically involves holding hands, sticking up for each other, going to dances together, their definition of boyfriend, girlfriend is quite different than what we may see it as. The whole wedding scene had me thinking, what? But in the end she made it so believable AND how the characters reacted to it in terms of what it did to their boyfriend, girlfriend friendship was really well done and had me nodding my head. I think the author really does get the fourth grade crew who are into the whole idea of being boyfriend, girlfriend!

  4. Anonymous11:45 AM EDT

    And oh my gosh, Jennifer...yes, the friend drama at that age. Do not miss that, not one bit, not for myself, not for my daughters!