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EDWIN SPEAKS UP by April Stevens


by April Stevens & illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: June 14th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-85337-1
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Edwin’s mother is the epitome of 1950s femininity—smartly dressed, elegantly coiffed and preoccupied with adult concerns throughout this entertaining supermarket romp.

Oblivious to the rambunctious antics of Finney, Fergus, Franny and Fiona, when Mrs. Finnemore finally loads her ferret family into her sleek, powder-blue Chrysler (with anachronistic seatbelts and a car seat), she also misses the meaning of Baby Edwin’s earnest babble. Therein lies the satisfaction for those who do attend to his speech bubbles. Had his mother been concentrating, she, too, would have realized that “Gloo poop SHOE noogie froo KEY” meant the car keys were in her son’s shoe or that “Gimpin chalk lil wiz um SWEETIN’ do a bye bye,” combined with Edwin’s endearingly outstretched arms, signaled that the sugar she was purchasing for his birthday cake was disappearing in someone else’s cart. Blackall’s highly patterned watercolor, gouache and ink scenes, infused with pink and turquoise, contrast with the white balloons surrounding his words—a choice that focuses attention. Stevens' inclusion of potty words in the phrases will add to young listeners' surprise and delight. They will cheer Edwin on as he patiently takes matters into his own hands, occasionally glancing winsomely at his audience, even as his mother wonders when he will begin talking.

This tongue-in-cheek tale of birth-order blues is a confection as sweet as it is silly. (Picture book. 4-7)