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Emmy Levels Up

Emmy Levels Up

Published: 1 Apr 2021

Paperback / softback, 304 pages

Recommended for age 9+

By Helen Harvey

Published by Oxford University Press

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This book features in the Upper KS2 Silicon Valley collection which is part of The Reading Journey

Online, Emmy is a star gamer with fans who love to watch her videos. At school, Emmy is friendless and bullied. Vanessa, AKA the Queen of Mean, has decided that Emmy is a weirdo with bad handwriting, horrible fashion sense, and no dad. Can Emmy level up, join forces with some new friends, and beat the bullies?

Tagged gaming

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  • Emmy Levels Up
    Emmy Levels Up

    9+

    Regular price
    £5.17
    Sale price
    £5.17
    Regular price
    RRP £6.99
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  • The Kid Who Came From Space
    The Kid Who Came From Space

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  • The Wild Robot
    The Wild Robot

    7+ 9+

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Reviewed by Amanda Murkett

This is Harvey’s debut novel which centres on Emmy, an online sensation but real-life loner. Harvey tells Emmy’s equally heart-warming and heart-breaking tale from the first person, which only adds to the reader’s emotional investment. We join Emmy as she reaches her gaming pinnacle, ‘Binding the Mulch Queen (with) NO DAMAGE’. Emmy quickly gains gaming notoriety but her off-line life isn’t quite as rosy, facing struggles all too common to many of our young people today. 

What makes this story so powerful is its truth; it resonates profoundly because it is rooted in honesty. It is a story about a young girl trying to overcome bullying and navigate a loving but, at times, challenging home life. Alongside this, she is discovering and expanding into who she is both online and off. Harvey has crafted Emmy so completely and relatably that there are moments in this story that become difficult to read, whether you have similar experiences or not. 

The bullying is carefully considered and not simply used as a plot device: it is real and it hurts (one does wonder at the author’s own experiences, here), providing a rich opportunity for classroom learning on so many levels. For this reason, the scene in the bathroom is one that deserves close study, as heartrending as it is. Emmy tries to retreat into her internal, online gaming world to draw her strength but recognises the crushing but simple realisation that she doesn’t ‘know how to beat Vanessa’. She is vulnerable, defenceless and entirely alone. 

Vanessa herself is not an unsympathetic character, none of the characters is. Despite the awful things Vanessa does to Emmy and others around her, we feel her pain and loneliness too. I found myself rooting for every character and their redemption and reconciliation, as the complexities of playground politics are played out across the narrative. 

As well as being split into easily manageable chapters for a middle-grade reader, the plot is split into sections, such as ‘Level: Newbie’, ‘Level: Lost’ and ‘Level Up: Boss’. This small detail is easily overlooked but offers an exploration of plot structure in a way more relevant to pupils than the traditional story mountain might be. It is one of the many ways this story is accessible for a child navigating growing up in this technological age. 

Pupils will feel seen in –  and connect with – this story, which tackles so many relevant issues, that it is a must for any classroom library and deserving of deeper classroom study.

I am a teacher, English Lead and Maths Specialist Teacher in a large, multi-cultural school in Suffolk. I have taught for 12 years across Norfolk and Suffolk and am passionate about equity within education, beginning with access and exposure to high quality literature.
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