Baby Edgar’s first word (“NO!”) drives his sister crazy, especially since she waited so long to hear it.
Curly-headed Hazel, eager to share books and playtime with her lump of a brother, shines as a refreshing foil to the snarling older sibling whose resentment simmers in so many picture books these days. Hazel’s failed attempts to play school, store, farm, (or even to squeeze the “squeaky-honky-quacky duck”) with little Edgar evoke empathy from readers and a stream of NO!s from the tiny (but mighty) tot. Hand lettering makes Edgar’s NO!s seem LOUD even to a silent reader. After a whole day of insistent negativity (screeching scenes shown on crisp white pages), she’s about ready to give up on brother bonding. Mother manages to smile through spilled cereal, botched bathtime and even a loud library run, and fluid ink-and-watercolor illustrations offer lots of optimistic springtime colors (greens, yellows, purples), as well as a serene matte finish. Plucky, pitch-perfect kid vernacular keeps the story upbeat too, full of silly run-on descriptors; Hazel hopes that Edgar goes from a “pointing, grunting watermelon” to a “not-no-saying lamb of a ram.” Exhausted by his own naysaying, Edgar finds himself settled on Hazel’s lap for a bedtime read—and offers a second word that finally brings them together.
Playful narration and amusing artwork will prompt readers to say, just like Edgar, “Again.” (Picture book. 2-6)