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In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Chapter Book Review: Big News!

On 29, Oct 2015 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

Emma on the AirBig News! Emma Is on the Air written by Ida Siegal, pictures by

Lexile: 540L

From Goodreads: Emma Perez has been looking for some big news to help her become a famous reporter. Javier’s wormburger is perfect-people need to know what happened! Emma is ready to find witnesses, gather clues, and file her report.

I was of two minds with this one. I found Emma really engaging and fun. She’s pretty girly and likes to think about clothes and being famous, but she also learns how to be an investigative reporter/detective. Of course she’s in second grade so it’s not hard hitting news. But the process is there and she’s willing to stick with it. Was she kind of silly? Yes, but I know a number of kids exactly like her.

The story itself, again not hard hitting news, but was a funny story kids will absolutely love. A worm has found its way into Javier’s burger one day at lunch and now Emma wants to investigate. She ends up solving the mystery, interviewing a bunch of people involved and making videos to post on a school online bulletin board. Her dad, a newspaper reporter, helps her write her scripts, make the videos, and walks her through the whole process. He also encourages and cajoles her when her enthusiasm wanes when she finds becoming a famous reporter isn’t just about putting on makeup (a character trait I think was completely fitting for an eight year old).

The cover treatment, form factor, etc. of this book would certainly mean even my low third grade readers would pick this up and enjoy it. Win, win, win!

But Ida Siegal, as far as I can tell, is white. Emma is half white, half Dominican. I think that’s fantastic. Diversity, blah blah blah. But with the exception of a few descriptions of how she looks (dark brown hair, no mention of skin color) and a few Spanish phrases and words sprinkled throughout, being Dominican doesn’t feel integral to the story or the character. I know it’s important to have books where being something other than white isn’t a big deal, but I think those stories need to be coming from authors that share those cultures. It just gets at that debate of who can write what characters. And in this book it feels more like tapping into the trend of diverse characters instead of being authentic.

Will I buy this? Maybe. I have a couple other series coming from the library that feature characters of color and I want to read those first and see if they are comparable in reading level and appeal. If they are and their authors are also share the characters cultures then I would buy those first. If they don’t meet that criteria then I would buy the Emma books. I have a gaggle of second grade girls who would probably love these.

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