Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe by Scott Gustafson

Lynn: Edgar Allan Poe’s work is part of the canon of American literature – and rightly so!  Poe was the master of the macabre and knew the secret dark places the lurk in all of us.  But what was he like as a child?  Information is slim and basic – just a few facts.  Scott Gustafson takes those facts and weaves an engaging story that gives readers an interesting take on what Poe’s youth might have been like AND skillfully imagines a most intriguing and child-centered mystery.  Eddie:  the Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe (S&S 2012) starts with a brief introduction to Poe’s earliest years, the death of his beloved mother and coming to live with his foster family, the Allans. 

Eddie wakes one morning after a vivid dream to discover that someone has imprisoned his cat Cairo and a noisy neighborhood rooster in a bag and hung it from a weathervane! Eddie is blamed for the prank and at the insistence of a furious neighbor, his foster father promises to punish Eddie.  Eddie insists he is innocent and wrangles a compromise.  He has 24 hours to find the real culprit.  Gustafson utilizes this an incident that kids can completely relate to as a springboard to explore Eddie’s world, the world of his earliest experiences – the theatre – self-reliance and the magic of imagination.  Aided by a McCobber,  the personification of the Imp of the Perverse, and a talking raven, Eddie sets out to solve the puzzle.

The mystery has Gothic atmosphere, kid-pleasing slapstick humor and is enhanced by Gustafson’s absolutely charming pencil sketches that liberally illustrate almost every page.  Eddie’s deductive skills are wholly believable and the solution to the mystery is wholly satisfying.  Hints to Poe’s later work are woven into the story but readers unfamiliar with his writings won’t feel puzzled.  This is a delightful hats-off to Poe and the power of his imagination.

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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.

1 Comment on "Eddie: The Lost Youth of Edgar Allan Poe by Scott Gustafson"

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  1. I’m so glad to have Lynn Rutan back in Michigan!–Cindy

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