Emma Bean the Mouse was the exact cast of characters I needed at exactly the right moment. It's funny how life, and books, find you like that, just when you need them most.
Emma Bean is a young mouse thrust into an adventure she believes she is wholly unprepared for. While her birthright may qualify her for what lies ahead, we watch as Emma overcomes self doubt and insecurities, and all the creatures who had a hand (or paw) in boosting her self confidence along the way.
Stephen Wood did a marvelous job unwrapping a world full of magic, starting with a new take on the creation tale. I loved how all encompassing the world building was, from the smallest detail to the largest element of the plot, everything was retold to shape Emma Bean's world, and invite us in to experience it with her.
This book will be great for elementary and middle grade students, not just for the entertainment value, but for all the underlying messages of community, family, morality, environmental awareness, and inner strength. Almost every character we meet contributes to these themes in a new, fresh way that helps Emma Bean understand the world around her, and subsequently herself, a little better after each interaction.
I was so pleasantly surprised by the ending of this book. It truly might be my favorite moment of the entire novel, and while I won't give anything away, I thought it was a superb ending for such a fun adventure.
I'm not sure what the final book will look like, but I do hope the author might consider including a list of characters at the back of the novel. It was hard at times to remember who was who when Emma Bean met so many new creatures, some of whom would become very important later on as the story progressed.
Whether you're an educator, parent, or lover of elementary/middle grade fantasy, I hope you'll give Emma Bean a chance, and join her for what I think might be the first of many adventures together.