15 January 2013

Loud Emily by Alexis O'Neill

Loud Emily  tells of a little girl named Emily with a very big voice! From birth, sweet Emily's loud voice surprises and flusters her family and all those around her, but her loud voice is a part of her that she cannot seem to change. It causes nothing but trouble until one day she walks into the noisy kitchen and there finds that her loud voice can actually be helpful!  When the cook takes Emily to the wharf to buy fish, Emily takes a job on a ship requesting "Loud Help." Her voice is exactly what the ships captain needs to call out directions to his sailors over the blustery winds at sea. Emily's strong voice comes to the rescue when no other help can warn others of danger. And in the end, her parents are no longer covering their ears but are proud of their daughter for using her voice to help others in a way no one else could.

In an interview at the end of the book, the author discusses only the historical setting of the story, (a New England sea coast village,) and how important whaling was to that area. That bewildered me, as the story carries a subtle but sure message. Emily is obviously most happy being herself and helping others than when she is trying and failing to be something she was not: quiet. At first Emily is viewed by those around her as flawed, in that her voice is simply too loud. But the story takes us through the process of Emily finding a way to turn what makes her different into something useful and beneficial to others. In the end, though never stated as such, her volume is viewed as a gift.

My children both love this book, probably because I yell whenever I read Emily's lines! But someday I hope they will love embracing and using their own unique gifts to serve others, as Emily does.