The Beach Dilemma

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Pub Date Aug 01 2023 | Archive Date Jul 31 2023
Red Chair Press | One Elm Books


Middle-kid Emma is stuck between her two brothers, again.

She has to ride in the middle seat as her family heads out on a weeklong beach vacation with friends, where Emma knows that being just medium will only get worse! Then she has an idea. What if she could get out of being in the middle by taking on a new role? What if she acted BIG? Will Emma's plan work, or will she have another huge dilEmma?

Middle-kid Emma is stuck between her two brothers, again.

She has to ride in the middle seat as her family heads out on a weeklong beach vacation with friends, where Emma knows that being just medium...

Advance Praise

This is one of the best children’s chapter books I have read in a long time. Not only as an adult, but from what I can remember reading as a child as well. Each character is incredibly relatable and the real-life scenarios they find themselves in are relevant to kids today. I can see this book being part of a Scholastic book fair or one of those books children often checkout from the school library.

The illustrations perfectly fit the story. They allowed me to place scenes in my head and keep it continuing in a cinematic way as I read the story. This could be an entire book, T.V., or movie series that I would enjoy as an adult as well as share with my children. Emma Just Medium: The Beach Dilemma is a fun children’s book with charismatic characters that kids will enjoy following.

--Literary Titan (January 2023)

This is one of the best children’s chapter books I have read in a long time. Not only as an adult, but from what I can remember reading as a child as well. Each character is incredibly relatable and...

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Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781947159600
PRICE $14.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 38 members

Featured Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and Red Chair Press for this cute read. I clicked "Read Now" as I thought it was a short picture book but it was not it was a chapter book. Ha! I said why not let's see what this is all about. It was great little book of lessons and fun. I really loved the illustration. I would read more of these books because I really enjoyed it. As a middle grade, this was good.

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Let me start by saying that I absolutely adore the cover of this book! I think it perfectly captures siblings at the age of the characters. The story felt pretty accurate as far as how a middle child might feel and act out. However, I am an only child, so I might not be the best judge. The story was pretty fun and I think it would be especially good for "middles" to help work through the challenges of not being the biggest or the smallest. My favorite part of the book was probably the adorable illustrations. This would be great for beginning chapter book readers.

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Emma Just Medium is a heart warming middle grade book about a girl who is struggling with breaking out of this mould of being the middle child. She's really not enjoying being a middle child because there's nothing fun about it. Her little brother "little" is the cute one, everything he does is adorable; even picking his nose and eating his boogers is cute, people eat it up because he's little and he's cute. Big on the other hand is Emma's big brother, who is just too cool for anything, he's a big boy now and doesn't play with Emma anymore because he's a big boy and Emma doesn't like that , and she doesn't like being medium Emma. So we follow Emma on this journey where she will learn that being medium/ middle child is not so bad and that there are some cool and nice qualities or perks of being a middle child.

I really loved this book and felt the pain, sadness and frustrations she was feeling. It's such a great book for middle grade readers with really great lessons and commentary about the trials and tribulations of being a middle child that I feel other fellow middle kids can relate to.

Thank you to netgalley for this Arc😄

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This book gives a true representation of what it is like to be a middle child. Not old enough yet but too old to be little. Emma learning it’s ok to be in the middle and finding her own space was so fun to read!

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I know what it’s like to be a big sister! I can totally relate you know!

This is the story of Emma who’s a child herself but has to act like the big sister because she is! She feels overwhelmed at times but her parents are quite understanding seeing her plight. Bless her parents.

I find the writing really good and perfect for the beginners/ reading audience.

It’s going to be a perfect summer read for the kids! Yes, the characters do have fun in the beach!

Thank you, Red Chair Press, for the advance reading copy.

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Emma is the middle child. So he is treated like a middle. She has an older brother, Big, and a younger brother, Little. They are on their way to a family vacation with her best friend and his parents. Her best friend is also a middle child. Emma is tired of being the middle child. Will she act out at the beach? I thoroughly enjoyed this children’s book. The illustrations were colorful, vivid, and detailed. The book cover is pretty and depicts the storyline. I recommend this book to late elementary kids and middle grades. I give this book 4 stars.

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This was a touching book about how it can be simultaneously painful and sweet to be the middle child. I come from a family of two and it is eye opening to read about the struggle to not only be the middle child, but also how parents have to juggle the intricacies of three. I read the book alongside by 12-year old daughter and we both felt it to be relatable- we both chuckled at the same parts for different reasons- her relating to Emma and sometimes Little and me relating to Emma's mother. There are some wonderful lessons within these pages and I look forward to reading more stories about Emma!

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**Thank you to NetGalley and Red Chair Press for this ARC in exchange for an honest review**

Emma is the middle child. Her younger brother, Little, is 3, and her older brother, Big, is 10. Emma is coming to terms with the fact that Big is growing more into his own person, and this includes getting his own friends. He doesn't play with her as much anymore, and Little is too small to understand her games to play with her either. There's a certain kind of loneliness that comes with this realization.

We follow Emma as she is packed into the back seat of the car--in the middle, of course--on her family's way to a summer vacation at the beach with their family friends, the Farbers. She decides that she is going to act like she was born in a different birth order, so she starts thinking about how she should speak and act as someone bigger. The Farbers just so happen to be her best friend, Wes the Best's parents, and her new plans include not hanging out with him anymore just because he is also a middle child and she can't associate with other middles if this plan is to work out.

Let's just say that trying to be too grown up doesn't end up working out for her, so she decides maybe she should go back to being little again. After all, Little's bad behavior isn't scolded the same hers is. However, in the end, being little doesn't work either. She has a heart to heart with her dad, and realizes that there are advantages to being in the middle after all.

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EMMA JUST MEDIUM is Just Terrific
Laura Wiltse Prior has beautifully and lovingly captured the challenges faced by a middle child;; and she has done it with sensitivity and humor. It is a delight to see Emma navigate her world and ultimately come into her own.
I shared this with my own middle sister and we both agreed we wish we had had this charming book as kids.
The winning illustrations by Marta Kissi add just enough visual humor to enhance the story.
A good read for the whole family!
Anne k. (Independent Reviewer)

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I and my 7 year old read this together it was a cute story! She laughed and loved the pictures and had a good lesson behind the book as well. I myself thought it was cute story and loved the funny bits and silly dialogue between siblings the pictures were great to show what was going on in the story. I recommend this book.

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This was an adorable book about a middle child who is just trying to be seen. She tries acting older and then acting younger. Nothing seems to work!

Being a middle child can be difficult and this cute story about Emma trying to fit in is perfect! It’s cute and relatable.

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Emma Just Medium was fun, cute, and would be the perfect gift for a middle child of a family. Poor Emma is stuck in the middle or "medium" between two brothers and finds it hard to be "just Emma" so she decides to act "big" at the beach. At the end of the day, she realizes that there may be some advantages to being stuck in the middle.

I read this to my 3 and 5 year old boys and they enjoyed it. It's the perfect little chapter book for early readers.

Thank you to NetGalley and Red Chair Press for allowing me to be an early reader. All opinions are my own.

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The saying that "Middle Children are like mints, put them in your pocket and forget them", is NOT true. Not true for Emma and not true for anyone. Emma Just Medium is a delightful book for all children no matter how many siblings are in the family. Emma tries different tactics and discovers she's just as special as her siblings. Read this to your children or leave it out for them to pick up and read on their own and it will leave a smile on your face.

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Well developed characters and a nice plot. A nice read just in time for summer. Thanks for the copy.

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I loved reading Emma Just Medium! The characters were so well developed. I really enjoyed how the author was able to capture the dynamics of birth order in such a relatable way. I’m excited for my kids to read it as well!

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-arc of this story in exchange of an honest review.

Una historia muy bien contada.

Creo que la autora realmente logró meterse en el papel de Emma. Y lo creo porque sus pensamientos e ideas me resultaron muy adecuadas para una niña pequeña con dos hermanos, uno mayor y otro pequeño.
La pequeña Emma comienza a sentirse menos especial por causa de ser la "hija del medio". Se fija en que Big (su hermano mayor), tiene ciertos beneficios por ser el más grande, y tener más edad. Puede tener aparatos electrónicos propios y sentarse en el asiento que da hacia la ventana en los viajes en auto.
Por otra parte, Little (el hermano menor), puede cometer errores sin que nadie se lo recrimine solo por ser el más pequeño de la familia, mamá y papá lo toman en brazos constantemente, y si llora puede conseguir que le den el juguete que él prefiera. Y por si fuera poco, también se sienta en el asiento de la ventana, porque su sillita de bebé no puede colocarse en medio.

Esto nos deja con Emma sentada entre sus dos hermanos, cuestionando cuáles son los beneficios de ser la hija del medio... si es que si quiera existe uno. Ella decide que este verano será diferente. Decide que quiere dejar de ser Emma la del medio, quiere ocupar otro lugar en la familia.
Aunque ella no sabe que por muchas ganas que ponga en fingir ser como Big o copiar la forma de hablar de Little, siempre será más cómodo ser ella misma.

A lo largo de la historia la acompañamos en su travesía para descubrir su propia importancia, valorar su lugar en la familia, aprender a amar su forma de ser, y estar en paz con ello.

Recomiendo mucho la historia para primeros lectores, y para disfrutar en familia. Puede llevar a plantearse preguntas interesantes para plantear temas de discusión importantes. Como por ejemplo, ¿qué tan buenos son los sobrenombres?, ¿cómo es nuestra relación con nuestros hermanos?, ¿es bueno hacer bromas pesadas?, entre otras varias. La guía de discusión del libro tiene preguntas de este estilo, ideales para comentar con niños y niñas pequeños.

Finalmente, debo decir que las ilustraciones acompañan muy bien a la historia en todo momento. Están bellísimas y muy útiles para que los niños puedan ir imaginando las escenas a la vez que leen el libro.

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Sweet and relatable story for anyone that has a sibling. I love the main character’s voice and the expressive details of the story. I will definitely pass this book on to any young readers.

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Emma is ‘stuck in the middle’ in that she is one of three children and is the second child. Her oldest brother is ‘big’ and gets to do everything while her younger brother is ‘little’ and is forgiven for all that he does because of his age. That leaves Emma, who considers herself to be medium. She’s beginning to think that she just can’t win, but then Emma comes up with an idea to try acting big. Sometimes what seems like a good idea is not really a good idea. Emma makes this discovery plus a few more. This is a cute story with fun illustrations making it an enjoyable read. Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity to review this book.

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This is cute and is a good look at being the middle child and trying to figure out how you fit in.
Emma tries to be like Big and tries to be like Little, but ultimately she decides to just be herself.

I felt that Emma was a bit whiny, but I understand middle children are sometimes overlooked.
The part in the car where her brother vomits all over her was gross. But also if they knew the brother throws up in the car, they should give him a Dramamine for his car sickness.

Good read for beginning chapter book readers.

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC

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I enjoyed this short chapter book focusing on self acceptance. Emma Bemma starts out the book feeling not special because she is smack dab in the middle between her brothers, Big and Little.

I loved the problem solving Emma employed to fix her situation. She made made hypotheses and then followed through with plans to try and find where she fit in her family.

Her mom and dad noticed and help Rmma realize her special place in their family, right in the middle.

Should be a must read for any middle children!

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I was initially drawn to the cover of Emma Just Medium, but immediately connected to this relatable story about a girl struggling to be the middle child. Emma is on her way to the beach to spend summer vacation with her family where she discovers that being the middle child isn't so bad after all. This book features so many important lessons, engaging characters, wonderful illustrations and will relate to so many children and families. Looking forward to sharing this fun read! Thank you Red Chair Press and NetGalley for the advance copy!

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Review to come at the end of July on my blog/goodreads.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.

So I definitely had to click on the read now/request button because this one looked oodles of fun. I just adore Marta Kissi's art and a whole book with her illustrations? YES please!

This book is about Emma. Emma who is in the middle of her siblings. She has an older and a younger brother whose nicknames are Big and Little which is just perfect for them... but what about Emma? She is just Medium and as we see in this book she isn't too happy with that and is making a grand plan to do different this year. She is going to stop being Medium. I loved that plan and I also could understand it after reading several pages of this book. I don't know from personal experience as I am an only child. I was looking forward to seeing what Emma would do and how everyone around her would react. I won't spoil anything, but it was quite fun to see her try something else, though I also felt for her as things weren't easy.

I am glad that she eventually did play more with her friend from that vacation place, I was worried that in all her grand planning she was going to ignore him/not play with him. I get that he is also a Medium and she wants to be something different, but come on, you only see him so little, play with him! 

I loved seeing what the families did together. From just days at the beach to visiting fun places~ I would definitely have loved to be part of this vacation. Going to the beach for a week? Sign me up! 

I do would have liked to see the parents see Emma a bit more. Like in the restaurant. Great that your three-year old wants something, but that is an opportunity to just teach him no. You cannot just let your three-year old get away with everything at the cost of the two older ones. Because that is what kept happening. He wrecked something? Well, he just a tiny little baby he cannot help himself. No. At 3 years old you can at least try to teach him that there is something like no. That some things are just not good. Because now you have two older ones who just have to live with a wrecking ball that keeps crying if it doesn't get what it wants. 

I am happy that nearer to the end Emma was able to talk to her that and that apparently the parents have talked given the ending. That made me happy. I am still not sure about Emma's decision at the end though. Not going to say what, but it just didn't click for me after all that happened in the book.

The illustrations, well, they are awesome. I love the style so much!

All in all, I do hope that we get more Emma Just Medium books because this one was fun! I would recommend it~

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I liked the premise of the story and hearing the perspective of a middle child. The protagonist in the story is in first grade, yet I don’t think this story is written at a first grade level. I know kids tend to prefer to read about kids that are older vs younger so I don’t know who would check this out of my library. Also, I wished for more plot. This book seemed lacking some excitement.

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"This book was send by netgally for exchange for an honest review"

This was a cute read and quick read. Definitely seeing this book to help kids that are the middle child to here there voice, it remind me of episodes of Full House.

Very predictable didn't feel like the parents handle some of the issues the kids was having with each other. Then again that how some may handle it

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"Emma Just Medium: The Beach Dilemma" is an exceptional children's book that captivates both young readers and adults alike. Laura Wiltse Prior weaves a heartwarming and relatable tale about the challenges of being the middle child.

The story revolves around Emma, affectionately called Emma Bemma by her family, who constantly feels like a dilEmma, overshadowed by her older brother, Big, and adored but mischievous younger brother, Little. Emma's struggle to find her place and be understood is a theme that resonates with children who face similar experiences.

The author skillfully explores the range of emotions experienced by a middle child, creating relatable characters that elicit both empathy and understanding. Emma's relationship with her Japanese fighting fish, Star, provides solace in her otherwise tumultuous world. The clever placement of Star's tank between her two brothers metaphorically represents Emma's position in the family dynamics.

While the primary focus is on Emma's personal journey, the story cleverly sneaks in an ecology thread. This subtle inclusion adds depth to the narrative, encouraging young readers to consider the importance of environmental awareness and preservation.

Laura Wiltse Prior's writing style is beautifully crafted, engaging readers from start to finish. The descriptive language and vivid imagery bring the story to life, captivating the imagination of both children and adults. The illustrations accompanying the text enhance the reading experience, complementing the narrative with their charm and visual appeal.

"Emma Just Medium: The Beach Dilemma" is a must-read for children who can relate to the challenges of being a middle child. With its relatable characters, emotional depth, subtle environmental message, and captivating prose, this book is a standout addition to any child's library. Laura Wiltse Prior's talent shines through in her writing, making this a delightful and memorable read for all audiences.

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Emma Bemma is stuck in a dilemma. The middle child between her two brothers. Her younger brother is little, her older brother is big and she is "just" medium. Emma feels out of place as she is always stuck in the middle of everything. She is too little to do things "big" does and too old to get away with things that "little" does. It's frustrating and confusing.
Emma and her family set out on a family beach vacation where Emma comes up with a plan. She does not want to be "just" medium anymore. Emma decides to take on a new role. Will her changes wreak havoc or will the role she takes on be her best decision yet?

My Review:

A wonderful story about being the middle child. This book showcases the true feelings of some middle children and allows readers to understand and fall in step with the story.
Emma falls into some habits that are not necessarily good for her age by copying "little." She tries to copy "big" and realizes she is still too young to do some of those things. The author did a great job will real-life scenarios making the story relatable.
In the end, Emma finds out she is perfect just the way she is, and it's best just to be herself and not try to copy others.

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I read this with my 10- year old daughter and we loved it. This is the perfect length for families with young children who want a shorter read aloud to start with. We loved how Emma tried out different positions in the family and realized her own place was the best one. It’s perfect for middle kids.

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This book was so adorable, I loved everything about it, the illustrations were so well done, they suited the book perfectly, the story was amazing as well, even thought is very short I could really connect with the characters and feel theirs struggles.
I’m sure the kids are going to be just as enthralled with this amazing book as I was.
I will definitely recommend!

Thank you netgalley and the publisher for this early copy

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Well illustrated children’s book. I particularly liked that if touched on self acceptance which ofcourse is important for any child!
Great book for any middle children!

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the e-arc of this story in exchange of an honest review.

I truly enjoyed this story. Poor Emma is stuck in the middle. She's not big enough to do the things big kids get to do, but she's not little enough to do what little kids do. She's stuck in the middle.

I loved watching Emma's friend and family support her through her dilEMMA and her lead her towards acceptance. This was a great book for yound children without feeling preachy.

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It's always hard being the middle child, but Emma is tired of being just medium! Her older brother, Big, used to be her best friend, but now he has no time for her at all. And her younger brother, Little, doesn't understand anything, because he is too young.

Meanwhile, Emma is stuck in the middle - not really fitting in anywhere, and not having her needs understood because they aren't as straight forward as the other two - or so it seems.

So when they go for a beach holiday with their family friends, the Farbers, Emma tries to address her dilEmma. She tries out various strategies to get what she needs. But things don't work out too well.

Besides, if she refuses to be a Middle anymore, where does that leave her best friend Wes, who appears to be quite content with his status as middle child?

Luckily, Emma has unexpected allies who will help her realise just how special she already is...

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The Beach Dilemma by Laura Wiltse Prior is such a cute read with a beautiful story and stunning artwork. This brings back so many memories as just like Emma I was a middle child. I really enjoyed this book and have already recommended this to my nephews and niece.

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