Tuesday, May 7, 2013
EDWIN SPEAKS UP by April Stevens
You might say that the text supplements the illustrations in this picture book—the pictures tell as gripping and more truthful a story than the actual words. Whenever Edwin, the little baby of this lemur family (or similar such creature), speaks up, not a member listens to him despite his insightful observations and reminders. Granted they just happen to be mixed up in all sorts of garbled "baby-speak" ("Figbutton noo noo POCKY BOOKY froppin ROOF" clearly indicates that the mom's pocketbook is on the roof of the car, right?). But in this wild excursion to the grocery store, Edwin is the "silent" hero among his whole family, the only one observing where lost items go, where lost grocery carts get switched, and finally where to find the missing but supremely important sugar that everyone else has forgotten.
Reading this book with a child would be immense fun; it invites the child to look for the interaction between the story and pictures. A keen eye can seek out and notice all the action going on in the illustrations and compare that to the oblivious nature of Edwin's mom and siblings in the text. Does anyone else know where mom's pocket book is? Nope, only Edwin. Who tries to call and point out to mom that she has switched grocery carts? Only Edwin. The reader finds out how observant and versatile Edwin is with every page. The retro style of the illustrations—colorful and with a 50's flair—belie their complexity, an intricacy the derives from the watchful eye of young Edwin.
This was a delight to read, and young readers will get great pleasure from decoding the silliness of the grown-ups and big kids compared to the intelligence of the little baby.