Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco is this week's pick for Library Monday. Emma Kate is a sweet and funny story about a little girl and her imaginary friend, a large and lovable elephant named Emma Kate. Emma Kate is a reliable companion who makes herself useful in all sorts of situations, from the routine Saturday soccer practice to the more anxiety-inducing tonsillectomy. The illustrations in the book are done almost entirely in charcoal pencil, with occasional spots of bright color and the story as a whole is a wonderul representation of the power of childhood imagination and the ways in which it helps children to navigate a world that sometimes feels very big.
Mariam loves this book for many reasons (a kid with an elephant for a pet? How great is that?) but I think that the biggest one is probably because she has always had her own fondness for imaginary friends. My friend Anna, a fellow teacher, has heard some of the funnier stories about the rag-tag group of invisible companions at our house and gave Mariam our copy of Emma Kate as a gift.
It's really a perfect book for my girl. Mariam's favorite imaginary friend, Sally, has been with us intermittently from the time that Mariam was about two, and she has proven very useful for getting through some difficult moments. When Dan cut his thumb and had to go to the emergency room for stiches, it was all good because it turns out that Sally's dad had the same thing happen! When I got carsick on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner two years ago I was regaled with assurances that I would feel better soon because after all, Sally had recently been carsick and it was no big deal. Sally has recovered from pneumonia, lost her lunchbox, had her dad go out of town for a week and lost a hamster to old age.
Sometimes it's good to have a friend that knows what you're going through and can assure you that it will all work out in the end, right?