Remarkably Ruby (Emmie & Friends, #6) by Terri Libenson continues the characters we have grown to love in the other Emmie & Friends graphic novels. But this time we take a character we have only seen as a running joke (literally as she is usually running to the bathroom) and one I do not remember seeing. Having these two characters who are the narrators not featured in other books was nice. You see the established world of this middle school environment in a new light. And with Ruby she is no longer the joke, “Baked Bean Girl,” but there is a real reason behind her actions (though not explored as much as some people might want. But then again, this is a middle grade read and not a science textbook). And with the character of Mia, she is a fun character to learn about. And in fact, having someone who is not really “all that nice” (but not a “big bully” but she can be one) was a story arc I was not expecting.
The switching of viewpoints (one chapter is in Mia’s voice, and one is in Ruby’s) and illustration style change keeps things flowing and connected as you see the feelings and reactions to the same situations from both sides. The chapters for each girl fit her personality. Ruby is physically large (she is taller than almost everyone else in school) and needs space, and the page provides this by being a bit sparse, but not empty as a lot is still going on. While Mia and her chapters are busier, chaotic but in an organized manner. Colors and line changes (the thickness of the lines make things known who is “Mia” or “Ruby”) drive home what feeling Libenson was going for.
Some modern concepts are introduced, such as IBS and slam poetry. I like how the poetry club allows Ruby to expand herself in ways she did not expect but is not overly preachy. This entry to the Emmie & Friends universe was relatable to me, and I think it would be relatable to the 10 and up crowd, too. When I finished Remarkably Ruby I thought while I like the dual viewpoint, I was thinking having books five and six be the only two this way (for a bit) and book seven should be a solo focus again. Then I saw that there are rumblings for seven and it looks like it could be another dual friend’s book. (While not a FIVE, this is a 4.5).