restricted access Edwin Speaks Up (review)
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Reviewed by
Stevens, April. Edwin Speaks Up; illus. by Sophie Blackall. Schwartz & Wade, 2011. [36p]. Library ed. ISBN 978-0-375-95633-1 $19.99 Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-375-85337-1 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R 5-8 yrs.

The youngest of five in the obstreperous Finnemore family, Edwin is just approaching his first birthday, and he's packed along when the whole crowd hits the supermarket to stock up and buy supplies to make his birthday cake. As a distracted Mrs. Finnemore struggles to remember all her tasks amid the sibling cacophony, Edwin's cheerful baby babble goes unnoticed amid the din—which is too bad, as he's actually the only Finnemore keeping tabs on the situation. Listeners will soon realize that Edwin's apparent nonsense actually offers the answers Mrs. Finnemore seeks ("Gloo poop SHOE noogie froo KEY" is his attempt to tell his mother that the car keys are in his brother's shoe), and they'll giggle at the joke of his family's obliviousness as he keeps happily but fruitlessly trying to solve his family's problems. Youngest siblings in particular, who will wryly sympathize with being overlooked in a busy family, will appreciate the fact that it's the baby who really knows what's what. Blackall conceives the Finnemores as a clan of anthropomorphized ferrets or weasels set in a '50s retro world of land-boat cars, hat-lifting gentlemen (okay, goats), and ten-cent canned goods; the airy design balances soft, misty colors with trim lines and bursts of joyous pattern. The kids/kits are genuinely rambunctious amid all this, their fluffy tails flying as they sled down display towers and roll in the aisles. Viewers will enjoy spotting the same mistakes that Edwin does, and his speech balloons emphasize the significance of his contributions. While it doesn't go quite as far as Solheim's Born Yesterday (BCCB 5/10), this is an amusing reminder that babies may be more on top of things than we realize. [End Page 541]