This is the second Tamaki book I've read, the first being Skim, which I liked but didn't love. Emiko and Skim both portray teen girls trying to figure out who they are. What makes Emiko shine brighter, in my opinion, is its focus. Skim brushed the surface of so many subplots (Wicca, suicide, a friendship cooling off, a teacher crush) and never let the reader dive in to any of them. In Emiko, all the threads tie together into a neat little slice-of-life bundle: girl goes from wallflower to performance artist--what's not to love?
And the characters--even the minor ones--are fully rounded out, partly thanks to Steve Rolston's artwork. My son Evan, for his part, has determined a kindred spirit in Rolston, because of the incredible detail in his vehicle illustrations. "What else has this guy done?" he wants to know. We'll be checking into these for age-eight suitability.
The soundtrack: On Worducopia I choose a song for almost every book I review. I love it when authors make it easy on me--here's a quote from the book: "My first police raid. Set to Kaiser Chief's I Predict a Riot. Although I could swear I also heard some Ramones in the background." Click on the playlist in the sidebar of Worducopia (or click here) to hear the Kaiser Chiefs sing "I Predict a Riot."