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Emily Levy is Shirley's BFF. She's a smart cookie who's considerate and kind. When Emily moves to Brooklyn, Shirley shows her the ropes at P.S. 8. Emily's quick to catch on, but she's also pretty up-front with her new pal, telling her just what she likes and doesn't like. Check it out:
"I don't play anything but board games or charades. I read books, lots of them. I practice the cello two hours a day." (9.37)
Pretty intense, right? But also pretty clear about who she is, and what she wants, which is something Shirley struggles with in this book.
Emily's quirks are completely explainable once we meet her family. They're definitely unusual, at least as far as Shirley is concerned. They're "progressive," which according to Shirley, means Emily calls her parents by their first names (9.40). Her dad's a psychiatrist and her mom is a committeewoman, in an era when many mothers worked at home.
Emily isn't just smart and self-possessed, though, and she's also quite perceptive. Shirley works to get Emily elected as representative for her grade at the Christmas Assembly, but once the guest is announced (Jackie Robinson), Shirley gets jealous and resents her pal. Emily knows preserving her friendship with Shirley is more important than this one incident, and she doesn't really like baseball anyway, so she gives up the position to Shirley, which keeps their friendship in tact and thrills our heroine.