The Tell-Tale Start

The Tell-Tale Start

3.6 3
by Gordon McAlpine, Sam Zuppardi

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Meet Edgar and Allan Poe -- twelve-year-old identical twins, the great-great-great-great-grandnephews of Edgar Allan Poe. They look and act so much alike that they're almost one mischievous, prank-playing boy in two bodies. When their beloved black cat, Roderick Usher, is kidnapped and transported to the Midwest, Edgar and Allan convince their guardians that it's time… See more details below


Meet Edgar and Allan Poe -- twelve-year-old identical twins, the great-great-great-great-grandnephews of Edgar Allan Poe. They look and act so much alike that they're almost one mischievous, prank-playing boy in two bodies. When their beloved black cat, Roderick Usher, is kidnapped and transported to the Midwest, Edgar and Allan convince their guardians that it's time for a road trip. Along the way, mayhem and mystery ensue, as well as deeper questions: What is the boys' telepathic connection? Is Edgar Allan Poe himself reaching out to them from the Great Beyond? And why has a mad scientist been spying on the Poe family for years?

With a mix of literary humor, mystery, a little quantum physics, and fun extras like fortune cookie messages, letters in code, license plate clues -- and playful illustrations thoughout -- this series opener is a perfect choice for smart, funny tweens who love the Time Warp Trio, Roald Dahl, and Lemony Snicket.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—As the great-great-great-great-grandnephews of the renowned horror writer, seventh-grade twins Edgar and Allan do their best to live up to his sinister reputation. Whether creating "The Pit and the Pendulum"-inspired Halloween trap or a grotesque rearrangement of the biology class skeleton, the boys use their mental powers to astonish their classmates and dismay their teachers. Their amazing skills have also attracted the attention of evil Professor Perry. After engineering their expulsion from school, he kidnaps their cat, leaving clues that will lure the boys cross-country to his Kansas OZ-itorium Theme Park, which celebrates the L. Frank Baum tale. The Professor idolizes the Wizard of Oz, whom he claims is among the world's great villains. Just as the Wizard used Dorothy and her friends to eliminate his rival and dominate Oz, the Professor intends to use the twins' powerful telepathic link to exchange information between this world and the afterlife, giving him control of both spheres. Unfortunately, this will involve killing one of the boys. The twins' efforts to thwart the evil genius are encouraged by supernatural messages from Edgar Allan Poe himself, somewhere in the Great Beyond. Interdimensional communication is unreliable, and the messages are often misleading. Can Edgar and Allan save the world? While the convoluted plot is often amusing, the twins are not particularly likable. They use their superior intelligence to manipulate others, and their "pranks" are often vicious and destructive. Authority figures like teachers are clueless or corrupt, while the twins' aunt and uncle blithely ignore the nasty practical jokes and cruel comments. An additional choice where series fiction is in high demand.—Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL
Publishers Weekly
McAlpine (Mystery Box) opens the Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe series by introducing the 12-year-old great-great-great-great-grandnephews of famed author Edgar Allan Poe. More than just identical twins, Edgar and Allan are literally of one mind (“Each always knew what the other was thinking, feeling, experiencing”). A mad professor is quite interested in harnessing the power of the boys’ mind meld (which is credited to “quantum entanglement” theory), and he creates an elaborate Wizard of Oz–related ruse to kidnap them. In establishing Edgar and Allan as orphaned mischievous geniuses with a connection to the macabre, the author lays some complex groundwork, including passages about what the twins don’t know and coded messages from Poe himself, delivered from the “great beyond.” This scene-setting slows the story’s initial progression, though the action eventually picks up, and Zup-pardi’s spindly b&w spot illustrations add to the overall creepy atmosphere. The light horror, snarky laughs, and gloom- and prank-loving protagonists should particularly appeal to fans of the Edgar and Ellen books and similar fare. Ages 8–12. Agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
This might be the start of a hilarious series! Edgar and Allan Poe are super-identical twins who share thoughts, feelings, and pranks that get them expelled from their Baltimore school. The orphaned twins, great-great-great-great grand-nephews of Edgar Allan of horror story fame, live with their incredibly tolerant aunt and uncle. They communicate with their deceased ancestor through mistyped messages in fortune cookies. When their beloved cat, Roderick Usher, is catnapped, a misspelled message sends them off to Kansas to retrieve their pet from an Oz theme park run by an evil professor. The professor (passing himself off as Professor Marvel from the story), has designs on the boys, planning to kill one so the other will communicate his thoughts from the Land of the Dead. The twins navigate the maze of tricks that the professor sets for them, rescue their cat, and perform (badly) as Flying Monkeys in the theme park's Wizard of Oz pageant to hilarious results. The book is funny, outrageously punny, and intricately plotted in a way that will captivate young readers. With teases of Poe lore, this might even send young readers off to read the real Tell Tale Heart. Not only will this be an easy sell to boy and girl readers who love a funny mystery, it should be kept on your book shelf for reading aloud at the end of the school day. Book two is on the way and, truly, I can't wait. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
Kirkus Reviews
Two twins so nearly interchangeable that they even share each other's thoughts nearly fall victim to a mad scientist in this mildly farcical series kickoff. Despite genius-level intellects, the young Poes little suspect that their every move has been surreptitiously recorded since birth by crazed nuclear physicist S. Pangborn Perry. Convinced that they are living embodiments of quantum entanglement, he intends to kill one and enslave the other to open a channel of communication with the afterlife. McAlpine first establishes the twins' bona fides as pranksters by having them turn their Baltimore basement into a chamber of horrors to cow a gang of bullies. He then sends them on a road trip to a supposed Oz-themed amusement park in Kansas, where Perry lurks with their kidnapped cat, Roderick Usher. Along the way, the lads cotton on to the fact that nefarious doings are afoot thanks to garbled warnings from their ancestral namesake, who watches over them from the not-quite-Heavenly office that generates fortune-cookie fortunes. In a climax filled with flying stage monkeys and falling counterweights, they scotch Perry's plot--at least for this episode. Occasional letters, journal entries and text messages, as well as small, scribbly ink sketches fill out and add visual breaks to the narrative. Middle-grade fans of L.L. Samson's Enchanted Attic series will enjoy this, though it's less clever in its twists and literary references. (Adventure. 10-12)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe Series , #1
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
850L (what's this?)
File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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