Emmie Enchanted: Greenwood girl creates book review website
GREENWOOD, Miss. (AP) — Most people in Greenwood know her as Mary Laine Dyksterhouse, a third-grader at Pillow Academy. On the internet, however, she goes by another name — Emmie Enchanted, a young literary connoisseur who writes reviews of the many books she reads.
Her website where she manages a book review blog is called “Fantastic Books & Where to Find Them” (www.fantasticbooksandwheretofindthem.org).
“I got that name from ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,’ because I had just read the book and I liked the name,” said Mary Laine.
The 8-year-old reviews books that either people recommend or that look interesting to her.
“I read them and review them, and I tell about the book and what I like about the book and ask them to contact me if they think differently of if they want to share something,” she said.
Mary Laine, the daughter of Gary and Kathryn Dyksterhouse, has always enjoyed reading. She said she learned how to read when she was about 3 years old.
“I started loving it when I was 4 probably,” she said. “Let’s say I just had a bad day, and I was going back into my room. I like with reading how I can just forget about everything that’s going on outside and just escape into the book.”
Kathryn has watched her book-loving daughter with a combination of amazement and appreciation.
“She just loved to read,” said Kathryn. “She would just sit there for hours. It’s all she wanted to do. I feel like it’s a God-given gift for her.”
Mary Laine’s website began in June, and her mother helps her manage it.
Her mother had been contacting a librarian online for book suggestions for Mary Laine after the adults in the family “had kind of exhausted all the books that we were familiar with,” said Kathryn.
Mary Laine said that after she read a lot of the recommended books, the librarian suggested that she start a website to help keep track of what all she has read.
“I was a little nervous when I first got started, but I soon loved it,” Mary Laine said. “You can’t really let the universe know what you think about a book when you’re just sitting in your room and you’re reading it. So I like that for a change.”
Mary Laine has reviewed 32 books so far.
She starts her reviews with a question. She then answers the question and writes a summary of the book, hitting all the highlights. “After I tell them about the book, I put what I like,” she said.
Mary Laine will say if she recommends the book and adds some other helpful advice for children. “Run and Get Mom” is how she describes the scariness factor for books, and “Yucky-Lovey Stuff” is how she describes the romance factor.
She uses a wand rating system. Five wands are usually the highest — with the exception of a few of her favorite books that received five and a half wands.
Mary Laine sometimes adds a “PS” with a little extra information about the book, such as if it’s a Newbery Award winner or something else she might find interesting about the book. At the bottom of the post, she adds if the book has Accelerated Reader points and how many.
Since starting the website, Mary Laine has received feedback from friends, family and even children’s authors.
“Authors have contacted her and asked her to read their books,” said Kathryn. “We had one author who found Mary Laine’s review of her book and sent her a letter thanking her for the review and bookmarks and stickers.”
Mary Laine said it was a surprise when she got the letter from Karina Yan Glaser, the author of “The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street,” addressed to “Emmie Enchanted.”
“I loved it,” she said. “I had no idea it was coming.”
“The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street” received five wands from Mary Laine. Tracy Barrett sent Mary Laine an advance copy of her book “Marabel and the Book of Fate,” which comes out in February.
Mary Laine read it and enjoyed the book, giving it five wands.
“I recommend this book to readers who take it to the end. It’s a little scary, but it is very good,” Mary Laine wrote on her website. “If you like ‘Ella Enchanted’ or ‘Harry Potter’ or pretty much any book with magic, then you will love this one!”
Mary Laine also recently began receiving review copies of books from Turnrow Book Co.
“They gave me a stack of advance copies and asked me to take them and read them and tell them if I liked them,” she said.
Mary Laine has posted about six or seven reviews on her website from those books.
She said the books she likes most are filled with magic and mystery.
“I have to admit ‘Harry Potter’ is really good,” she said. ”‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ is probably my favorite, but I just like all of them.”
Mary Laine also has written a book of her own, “The Magic Mystery,” which features eight chapters and combines her two favorite genres.
“I wrote it for Pillow Academy’s Santa Shop,” she said. “The third-grade class makes things to sell, and the money goes to St. Jude.”
Mary Laine said she likes to share her thoughts about books with others on the internet.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know that people are looking at my reviews,” she said. “I can’t explain it in words — just amazing.”
She also likes sharing her love of reading with other children and hopes her reviews will inspire them to read.
“She had a hard time finding books that she was interested in and age appropriate, so she wanted to help other people find books that they would be interested in reading,” said Kathryn.