Monday, June 13, 2011

How Emma Stopped the World by Gene and Iris Rotberg

How Emma Stopped the World by Gene and Iris Rotberg, the authors of the beloved story, Tess and the Dog Star, is a charming story for children that teaches them about the domino effect of their actions in a comical and accessible manner. There are many layers of meaning that can be inferred from the story of Emma and her lost blanket.

On the surface level, children enjoy the story that, much like children's classic, Because a Little Bug Went Ka Choo, illustrates the deeply resonating effects of a seemingly isolated incident. Emma's search for her lost blanket causes a chain reaction of events, with her single action having reverberating effects that are felt around the world. Emma is so upset about her lost blanket that she cannot be at peace until it is found. Despite her grandmother's protests about traffic, Emma is insistent that they search for the blanket. Her grandmother, Iris, must stop the car in the middle of traffic so that they can retrace their steps, searching for where Emma may have left the missing blanket.

As Iris and Emma search all over town, they are oblivious to the traffic jam that forms, stretching far and wide. Eventually, trucks are unable to get to the dock to pick up the cargo that is being unloaded, so the ships become backed up around the world. Emma's insistence on searching for her blanket causes trade to stop all over the world, threatening the livelihood of people from all corners of the world, from China to South Africa.

How Emma Stopped the World is a great way to teach children about the consequences of their actions and gives them a chance to reflect on how they affect others. The other overarching themes take incredibly complex systems like chaos theory, globalization, and trade, and bring them down to a child's level, helping them to understand principles that will later serve them well in life. It is a charming book that will keep young readers laughing throughout the story, completely unaware that they are learning while they are having fun.