Emmaline is blamed for something Jane Doe has done and is sent to the principal’s office, terrified and angry. The principal wants to bring in one of her parents but they both have jobs and can’t get away. Emmaline suggests one of her brothers – Aaron. He is her favorite, but the principal says ‘no’ and phones her dad.
She meets Hannah when they both go for the same swing and become best friends. Hannah even invites Emmaline to her house, and Emmaline is thrilled to find out that Hannah has a puppy and a treehouse where they eventually declare themselves sisters.
When Jane Doe, the bully, teases Emmaline for having red hair, Emmaline can name several famous people with red hair. When Jane confronts Emmaline about having freckles, Emmaline shows her the constellation Orion on her arm. Then there’s Emmaline’s shortness and buying store brand items. Emmaline is always supported by her classmates when they use hair chalk to make themselves redheads and use various media to make freckles.
Emmaline has four big brothers and would happily give one to Hannah, who is an only child. With a big family, the Modesties take turns cooking since there are seven people and seven days of the week. When it’s Emmaline’s turn, she makes chili and confuses the salt measurement with the chili powder. They end up tossing the batch.
Another bump in the road occurs when Emmaline’s Principal tells her parents that Emmaline has ADHD. She has a few months to improve her performance, or she’ll have to repeat the fifth grade. She enlists the help of the genius in the wheelchair two floors below to help her. She has until February.
At the same time, Emmaline discovers she loves classical music and has a talent for the piano. Though she’s never played the piano before, she loves everything about it. Music makes her concentrate, and that’s what she needs. In fact, the genius, Colvin, makes the piano a reward for her, an incentive to get her homework done. So, she wants to have as much time as possible on the piano.
Emmaline’s family take turns discussing their day during dinner, and since Emmaline is the youngest, she is always last. By then, dinner is over, and the family members are anxious to get on with their night. They never hear Emmaline. They never see Emmaline. She is a blur.
All solved by the end of the novel are the bullying, repeating the fifth grade, and finally, being heard by her family, which is the greatest thing of all.
Karen has done many things in her past from teaching to private tutoring, accounting and bookkeeping, computer operations and programming. But her favorite was as a full-time mom. Her three children live in different states, and have gifted her with 9 grandchildren, twins, triplets and four singletons.
She is married to Tom and lives in sunny Florida, where 40 degrees is unbearable. She had a picture book, TROLLERELLA, published by Holiday House, was published in Boys’ Quest Magazine, had a play nominated for a TAG award, and is a member of SCBWI, CBI, and runs a critique group.
Freadore can't pronounce his own name, but he can count to three... or free.
When Emmaline thinks he might be the thief, it ends being a misunderstanding because he's four-years-old and has trouble speaking.
Blurry Around the Edges
At home, a little boy, maybe three or four years old, was standing outside our door just looking at the pumpkins. “These are free pumpkins,” he said.
“What’s your name?”
That was an odd name. “Do you live around here. . . Freadore?”
“NO! It’s FRE-adore!”
That’s what I said. Anyway. “Do you live around here, little boy?” He just pointed. He must have meant the second floor - a newbie. I remember that a new family had just moved into the building a few weeks ago.
“These are free pumpkins,” he said again.
“How are they free?” I wanted to know.
“See? One, two, free!” He pointed at each one.
“Oh,” I said, laughing. I get it. He was so tiny and cute. “Do you want a clown pumpkin?”
“Theodore! Are you upstairs again?” It must have been his mom.