My daughter, 11, and I share a love of reading. We both love to curl up with a good book. That’s why I was pleased when Little Bee Books approached us to read Ask Emma, a new book for tweens.
Ask Emma is about a 7th grader named Emma who decides to publish an advice blog. It’s written by a mother-daughter team, Sheryl and Carrie Berk, who have penned books including The Cupcake Club and Fashion Academy.
It’s loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma and the 90s hit movie, Clueless. As if!
We share below our thoughts on Ask Emma as well as some comments from the authors who participated in an interview with several blogger-daughter pairs.
Our Thoughts on Ask Emma
At first, Emma seemed a bit preoccupied with getting attention for her blog vs. helping others. But then we realized that Emma from Ask Emma is just like Jane Austen’s Emma (and Cher from Clueless!): she’s a bit misguided in her attempts to help others. But, this lead to more self-awareness and self-understanding.
“Ooo, it’s getting juicy,” my daughter said during one of Emma’s misguided attempts to help. Emma tells a girl who is sensitive about her ears to tie a decorative scarf around them before trying out for the cheer leading squad. This leads to disaster: the scarf falls down over her eyes during try-outs and she takes out half the squad in a tumbling pass gone wrong.
Emma learns from her mistake and writes on her blog, “You should love who you are and embrace what makes you unique and special. And remember, we all hate stuff about ourselves sometimes. That’s what makes us human. Don’t be afraid to let people see the real you.”
“A message we really wanted to put out there,” comments co-author Sheryl about Ask Emma, “is that kids should own who they are and never be ashamed of who they are. It’s what makes you special and different and wonderful.
Cyber Bullying in Ask Emma
Someone posts nasty comments on the Ask Emma blog as well. This cyber-bullying theme is close to fifteen-year-old co-author Carrie’s heart.
“My experience with cyber bullying really reached its peak when I was in middle school, so I feel like my story with Emma experiencing cyber bullying would resonate most with middle school students,” she says.
Emma does the right thing in talking to her friends and adults about the cyber bullying. She ends up coordinating a whole anti-cyber bullying event at her school to get the message out: Be kind. Be brave. Be you.
“It’s a really important message, especially at that age in middle school, to know that you should believe in yourself and own who you are and not be afraid to speak your voice, and not just be a follower- be a leader,” notes Sheryl.
Final Thoughts on Ask Emma
Besides the strong anti-cyber bullying message, there are many more lessons in Ask Emma like self-acceptance, self-confidence, and kindness that are perfect for its target audience, kids ages 8-12. Middle schoolers in particular should be able to relate.
My daughter and I give Ask Emma two thumbs up.
Have you ever read the same book as your daughter? Are you a Jane Austen fan? What books do you recommend for tweens?