Suzy’s summer begins with an emergency: Mrs. Harden, her neighbor and honorary grandmother, suddenly collapses. Thanks to the quick thinking of Suzy's little brother, Parker, who calls 911, Mrs. Harden is whisked to the hospital and is soon on her way to a full recovery.

But while all ends well for Mrs. Harden, the incident is just the beginning of Suzy’s troubles. First, there’s the neverending onslaught of attention Parker receives as the town's littlest hero. Parker is featured in the newspaper, receives balloons and stuffed animals, and is invited to ride with the mayor in the 4th of July parade. And then Parker tops off his stint as the most obnoxious younger brother on the planet by managing to get himself lost on the very day Suzy and her dad have baseball tickets to celebrate her 12th birthday.

The only good thing about Suzy’s summer, she decides, is choosing Emily Dickinson as her character in the Tween Time library program. As it turns out, impersonating the reclusive poet becomes the perfect way to express her dissatisfaction with the world. As Emily, Suzy wears white dresses, rarely leaves the house, hides from her best friend Alison, and avoids a conversation with her friend Gilbert. But Emily Dickinson is also the poet who wrote, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers— / That perches in the soul.” And before summer’s end, Suzy finds a way to soar.

Written in easy-to-read, accessible free verse, Eileen Spinelli’s story of a rollercoaster summer is perfect for young readers who may find, like Suzy, that trying on other roles is one way to feel better about being yourself.

 

Deborah Hopkinson lives near Portland, Oregon. Her most recent book for young readers is The Great Trouble.

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