Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, by Lynne Jonell, is a very fun read.
I've never had a dislike for the talking animal thing, so it didn't bother me in the least that Emmy could understand Rat after he bit her the first time. It seemed completely natural, especially since all of the rodents involved in the dastardly plot were endowed with special abilities.
I'm not one of those reviewers who relate the story line of the books I read, and I'm not going to change my tactics at this time. I will say that when I read the title, I thought the Rat shrank. I was wrong. He shrinks whomever he bites, but it's a bit more complicated than that.
This is a creative and fun tale, with a clever twist to the absentee parent situation. Although it is refreshing that Ms. Jonell managed to allow one set of parents to be involved and concerned about their missing son. It isn't too often that the kids can go off on an amazing adventure without offing the parental units in some way, so I enjoyed that she left a few of them intact and worrying.
I also loved the personalities of the rodent population. They were actually more fun than the humans, although Emmy and Joe are portrayed as entirely believable preteens. She's invisible and he's a jock. Of course they're going to end up together in some manner.
I really love the characters in this book, from the incredibly evil Miss Barmy - Emmy's nanny - to the absolutely adorable Endear Mouse, each has such a unique personality that every one of them should be considered a star. And although Rat has some traits that are slightly less than stellar, I couldn't resist falling in love with him when he sang The Star Spangled Banner. What a hoot!
My favorite aspect of this tale is the humor. At times it is sweet, and at other times it is so gross that it nearly made me gag. And it all worked together so well that I think this book would appeal equally to boys and girls.
This is one that I will remember for a long time, and I hope there are more of the same caliber in the future, for I really, really enjoyed it. Definitely recommend for any middle grade reader.