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July 20, 2011

New Books: Edwin Speaks Up

Whenever possible, we prefer to go grocery-shopping without the kids. Yes, some children are calm, patient, and helpful in the supermarket, or so I've heard, but neither of our sons fall into that category, and when they're along we can count on endless distractions and variants of "No, we're not buying that!"

So April Stevens's Edwin Speaks Up, in which a harried mother ferret attempts to get her shopping done with her five young kids in tow, really spoke to us. Mrs. Finnemore, it must be said, reacts somewhat more calmly than I would in similar circumstances without large doses of Xanax, but the squabbles among her kids and their pleas for chocolate take their toll in another way: She keeps forgetting where she put things—her car keys, her pocketbook, even her shopping cart itself.

Luckily, her youngest child, Edwin, is one of those helpful children I mentioned before. Less luckily, he isn't quite talking yet, though if Mommy listened a little more carefully she might be able to heed his timely and sensible warnings. For example, when she can't find that pocketbook, having left it on the roof of the car while puttng Edwin in his carseat, he says, "Frigle dee ROOFY plowck"—but a fellow shopper in the parking lot has to point out to Mrs. Finnemore where it is. Edwin continues to be the garbled voice of reason throughout the trip, watching Mommy go by with the wrong cart (he's in the right one) with a glum "Gloody pooper do no LEAVEY," and finally taking matters into his own hands when his mother is about to check out without the main thing they came for.

Stevens achieves just the right tone of charming hilarity throughout, and not just for similarly harried parents—our almost-3-year-old loves this book passionately, insisting on constant re-readings. (This doubtless has more than a little to do with the typically lovely art by one of my favorite illustrators, the insanely talented Sophie Blackall, as well.)

Now, do you think there's a chance his enjoyment of the book will make Griff behave more like Edwin on our next shopping trip?

[Cover image courtesy of Random House]

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