Book Love: The Emma Books by Jean Little and Jennifer Plecas

Jennifer Plecas, Emma's Magic WinterSometimes, early readers can really stink. I know this because I’ve read, at this point, literally hundreds of them at all of the different levels. My daughter’s graduated to level three now, and is so proud of her reading prowess—as am I. But I’ve learned the hard way that the path to reading prowess is paved with a lot of really awful leveled readers.

That is, until we discovered Emma. My kiddo first took Emma’s Magic Winter out of the school library, and she was immediately hooked. The story of a shy, anxious young girl who slowly comes out of her shell with the help of some “magic” boots and a new neighbor and best friend resonated with us. The problem is real, the solution is lovely, and overall effect is one that sweet but never soft—that reflects real life with still maintaining its magic.

The same is true for the other two books in the series, which we’ve now ordered and read within an inch of their lives.Jennifer Plecas, Emma's Yucky Brother

Emma’s Yucky Brother. When Emma’s family adopts a four-year-old boy named Max, it isn’t a bed of roses for any of them. It’s hard for Max, it’s hard for Emma—there are some serious growing pains. But there’s also real love and real understanding. There are parents who stand by your side through thick and thin. And there’s a family who learns to adapt and grow in dear and unexpected ways.

Jennifer Plecas, Emma's Strange PetAnother adoption takes place in Emma’s Strange Pet, but this time of a lizard (and eventually, two lizards). The story is as much about siblings learning to live together as it about loving and taking care of a pet (no matter how strange either siblings or pets can be).

Each of these three stories tackles down and dirty family issues—each does so with grace, with affection for its characters, and with an understanding of the young reader that’s sadly rare in books of this type.

So, if you’re looking for some lovely readers for your own little one, Jean Little and Jennifer Plecas have got your back.