Don’t be fooled. To the untrained observer, it’s easy to assume that children are simply cute, uncomplicated little moppets. This would be an incorrect assumption. Working with students in grades K-6 I can tell you that the uninitiated would be astounded at the level of social complexity going on at this early age. An amazing amount of youngsters are fluent in the inner workings of friends, enemies, loneliness, rivalries, and the like. Author Patricia Hermes understands this, and has injected these authentic feelings into her series, Emma Dilemma. While it won’t blow your hair back in terms of breaking new ground, this fourth installment in the series, Emma Dilemma and the Camping Nanny, will appeal to kids looking for a character they can relate to.
Emma has a big family. Four siblings, two parents, and some pets makes for a crazy house. Helping to keep the peace is Annie, the family nanny. Things start to go south with our titular hero when Annie gets a boyfriend (Bo), and Emma’s best friend (Luisa) starts hanging out with Katie, Emma’s anti-best friend. Along the way Emma and her family go on a camping trip that ends early due to an unfortunate interaction with nature. With both of her favorite people suddenly preoccupied with new friends, Emma is left to figure out how (and if ) she fits into the equation.
It all boils down to a basic feeling that kids can relate to – the difficulty of sharing a friend. This will absolutely hit home with youngsters. While told in third person, the perspective sticks like glue to our protagonist. In fact, the author is so “in the head” of Emma that there were times I really had trouble relating. I think this is a good sign for young readers. If I (a 27 year old male) am really feeling like Emma Dilemma is speaking to me, then I have some dilemmas of my own to work out.
While Emma Dilemma and the Camping Nanny may not contain the distinct voice or comedic highs of a Clementine or Judy Moody, it will certainly appeal to readers who see their life reflected in this series.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.