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Edwin Speaks Up

Edwin Speaks Up

by April Stevens, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

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Here's a book that will get the whole family laughing. When a large family of ferrets and their precocious baby take a chaotic trip to the supermarket, mom can't keep track of the groceries, the shopping cart . . . or even the kids! Baby Edwin tries to help, but everyone thinks he's just babbling. Little do they know that he really has all the answers.

Full of


Here's a book that will get the whole family laughing. When a large family of ferrets and their precocious baby take a chaotic trip to the supermarket, mom can't keep track of the groceries, the shopping cart . . . or even the kids! Baby Edwin tries to help, but everyone thinks he's just babbling. Little do they know that he really has all the answers.

Full of fun-to-say nonsense words this is a perfect storytime book and a great read-aloud. April Stevens, author of Waking Up Wendell, is accompanied by Ezra Jack Keats Award winner Sophie Blackall for a match-up that is sure to delight.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Mrs. Finnemore and her five ferret children set out for the supermarket. "We absolutely mustn't forget the sugar for Edwin's birthday cake tomorrow," she cautions as the siblings jockey for position in the car. They all ignore Baby Edwin, who babbles, "Figbutton noo noo POCKY BOOKY froppin ROOF." Yes, mom takes off only to learn upon arrival at the supermarket that her pocketbook is on the car roof. After this near disaster, she navigates down the aisles tossing groceries into her cart, oblivious to the chaos her children are causing, and Edwin's continuous commentary. She ignores his warning that she's inadvertently walked off with Mrs. Lutzheimer's cart, leaving him and her own groceries behind. And there's that sugar she keeps forgetting: "SWEETIN' do a bye bye," forcing Edwin to take matters into his own hands. The ink and watercolor cartoon illustrations greatly enrich the text, depicting the siblings' high jinx, Edwin covering his face in consternation at his mother's cluelessness, and his final crawl down the aisle to get his own sugar. His gibberish phrases contain just enough real words for youngsters to decipher what he is saying. And they will love the final scene in which Mrs. Finnemore drives away with the sugar on the car roof. "Roofum SWEET," Edwin says, as mom looks over and comments that baby Edwin is growing up so fast. "Soon he'll be talking." Don't miss this hilarious shopping trip.—Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT
Publishers Weekly
Baby Edwin speaks up a lot, but nobody understands him. "Figbutton noo noo POCKY BOOKY froppin ROOF," he says to his mother who has left her purse on top of the car. "Gloody pooper do no LEAVEY," he shouts as his mother takes off with the wrong grocery cart, leaving him behind. There's a lot of frenetic action in this story about the ferret family's trip to the grocery store—the misbehaving antics of Edwin's four whiny brothers and sisters generate some truly anxiety-inducing scenes. Mrs. Finnemore, however, is June Cleaver serene throughout, even as her children knock over canned goods, wrestle in the store aisles, and quarrel over everything—while Edwin obviously knows exactly what's going on. Blackall's (Pecan Pie Baby) stylish illustrations feature 1950s slick cars and ballooning dresses, but what will make Stevens's (Waking Up Wendell) text a read-aloud favorite is Edwin's babbling—a humorous blend of nonsensical toddler talk and new words. Mrs. Finnemore says, "Soon he'll be talking. Can you even imagine that?" but readers will know that Edwin has been all along. Ages 4–8. (June)
From the Publisher
Review, The New York Times Book Review, June 5, 2011:
“Blackall’s softly colored illustrations manage to make even stretched-out rats look adorable.”

Starred review, Booklist, May 15, 2011:
"Stevens’ spot-on story about every mother’s nightmare, the group grocery-store shop, is matched by Blackall’s delicious art...This is a book that’s clever in every sense of the word: skillful, original, and witty."

Starred review, School Library Journal, July 1, 2011:
"Don’t miss this hilarious shopping trip."

Children's Literature - Heather Christensen
Mrs. Finnemore has her hands full with her five children, Finney, Franny, Fiona, Fergus, and Edwin. A trip to the grocery store proves almost more than this scatterbrained ferret can handle. The four oldest children wrestle, argue, whine, and wreak havoc throughout the store, while their mother attempts to ignore the chaos long enough to make it through her list. Instead, she leaves her purse on the roof of the car, switches shopping carts with another shopper, and almost forgets the most important item on her list—sugar for Edwin's birthday cake. Thank goodness for Edwin. Though his mom and siblings don't understand his baby talk, little ones listening to the story will be sure to recognize the helpful information he offers "Figbutton noo noo POCKY BOOKY froppin ROOF" (don't forget the pocket book on the roof!) or "SWEETUM NO NO!" (We didn't get the sugar!). Knowing his family will forget the sugar, Edwin quietly climbs down from the cart, toddles over to the aisle with the sugar and puts it on the conveyer belt—all without being noticed by his siblings or busy parent. Blackall's illustrations humorously capture the exuberant children (often hanging over objects or crawling under something, with tails held high in the air) and inattentive mother. The line drawings and watercolors are full of details that complement the comical text. This is a perfect tale for family story times or one-on-one readings. Reviewer: Heather Christensen
Kirkus Reviews

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)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.60(w) x 10.40(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

APRIL STEVENS is the author of Waking Up Wendell, which received two starred reviews and was a 2008 Bank Street Best Book of the Year. Kirkus Reviews called it "as absolutely charming as a sunny morning can be." She also wrote an adult novel, Angel, Angel.

SOPHIE BLACKALL received the Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Talent. She is the illustrator of Meet Wild Boars, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon selection; Jumpy Jack & Googily; What's So Bad About Being an Only Child?; Summer Is Summer; and others. A native of Australia, she now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at sophieblackall.com.

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