Edwin Speaks Up by April Stevens

Lynn: Mrs. Finnemore has her paws full!  In Edwin Speaks Up (Random/Schwartz & Wade 2011) she is taking her five little ferrets on a trip to the grocery store.  But first she has to find her keys!  “Gloo Poop SHOE noogie froo KEY,”  babbles baby Edwin.  Sophie Blackall’s full-page opening illustration cleverly depicts Mrs. Finnemore’s search as she finally finds the missing keys – in a shoe, of course.  The main mission of the grocery trip is to buy sugar for Edwin’s birthday cake but the trip is fraught with obstacles that every harried parent will recognize.   What with leaving her purse on the car roof, grabbing the wrong cart and keeping track of the other four children racing and wrestling around the store, is it any wonder Mrs.  Finnemore gets to the check-out lane without the essential item?  No one in the ferret family listens to Edwin but sharp-eyed youngsters will quickly recognize that Edwin is the only one really paying attention and will delight in knowing far more than the clueless Mrs. Finnemore.  (Seriously – I have trouble keeping track of just 3 children at the grocery store!  Think of having 5!)

Stevens’ story with its funny and child-centered running joke is enhanced by Blackall’s humorous illustrations with their unusual and effective perspectives.  Adults will love this as much as kids and the wealth of details makes this charming book a rereading treat!

Cindy: What fun to read  aloud Edwin’s baby talk although this needs to be viewed up close to see the details in the delightful illustrations: “Gimpin chalk lil wizz um SWEETIN’ do a bye bye!” Of course that means that the grocery cart with the necessary bag of sugar has been taken by another shopper! The fun for kids, of course, will be in knowing more than the poor mother.

While nosing around on the net for fodder for this blog entry I found a delightful blog on Sophie Blackall’s website. Her father had stories to tell and she coaxed him to write them down and she has illustrated each with a painting. From UFO sightings to war stories the “Drawn from My Father’s Adventures” blog is worth checking out. I love projects that involve personal storytelling and this father/daughter effort is a treasure.



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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