Adventures of Monsieur Lapin
Emma's father is a game warden, and when she accompanies him on a rabbit rescue, she falls in love with the adorable honey colored rabbit they find. It's not a wild rabbit, and the local shelter has not had anyone searching for an animal that matches the description, so Emma keeps Lapi. The name is short for Monsieur Lapin, the name of a character in stories that her grandfather had told her. Emma has always been homeschooled, but is starting public school for the first time. Her older brother has enjoyed it, but Emma isn't keen on the idea of not having free time after her lessons and having to deal with trying to make friends. She approaches school with the right mind set-- try to fit in, be friendly and nice, approach people cautiously-- but her attempts aren't too successful. She tries to get her project group to come to her house, but the two girls she would really like to befriend don't come. Jack does. Jack is on the autism spectrum, so has some moments when he is difficult for Emma to work with, and he does not help her social standing. They work well, together, however, and Jack even tries to get over his fear of animals in order to pet Lapi. Emma hopes that if she can take Lapi to school for her project, the girls in her class will warm to her, but Lapi might have owners that could claim him. Emma manages to figure out school and eventually feels more comfortable there.
Emma's struggles are very realistic and dear to the heart of middle grade readers, who like problem novels that make them feel like their own life is easier. Lord has a good feel for just the right level of problem, and Emma solves her difficulties in constructive ways.
Lord uses her own personal background to good effect in this latest book. Her son is on the autism spectrum, she homeschooled her children, and the family fostered rabbits. She consulted with her daughter about the difficulties she faced when entering public school, so this is very effective.