Edward Gets Messy: Rita Meade + Olga Stern
November 10, 2016
Book: Edward Gets Messy
Author: Rita Meade
Illustrator: Olga Stern
Age Range: 3-7
Edward Gets Messy, written by Rita Meade and illustrated by Olga Stern, is about a little pig who is determined to stay clean. When his friends do things like jump in leaf piles, eat spaghetti, and play baseball in the mud, Edward passes. He stays safely, neatly, in the background. He eats steamed broccoli instead of the spaghetti. As all of these activities take place, the discerning reader will note Edward becoming more and more wistful. So it's a bit of a relief, when, through no fault of his own, Edward gets messy. And once Edward discovers that getting some paint spilled on himself is not the end of the world, well, joyful, messy play follows.
The plotline of Edward Gets Messy is a bit simplistic. Kid hates getting messy, and has a dull life. Kid accidentally does get messy. Presto, kid learns that it's ok to get messy, and has a more fulfilling life. I might have preferred to see Edward freak out a little or have a period of adjustment or something. Though he is redeemed, to me, by being shown, in the final scene, cleaning himself off in a bubble bath. But the fact of the matter is that I liked this book very much anyway.
Rita Mead's text is lively and enthusiastic, with strong vocabulary words.There are lots of short sentences and dramatic moments, making this a book that calls out to be read aloud. Here's the beginning (over a couple of pages):
"This is Edward.
Edward is a very particular pig.
He detests dirt.
He FEARS filth.
He likes things to be just so.
Edward never gets messy."
Olga Stern's colored pencil illustrations are simply a delight of color. It would be impossible to look at them (see the cover image above) and not feel cheerful. The scene in which paint spills all over Edward is both joyous and funny, even though Edward is initially "distraught" and "devastated". Here "devastated" is in a gigantic green font that matches the green paint. In other places there are sound effects shown in multiple, hand-drawn colors, each suitable to the occasion. New readers will be unable to resist the urge to read the callouts aloud themselves.
Edward is simply adorable, whether he is nervously standing back from the leaf pile or (later) diving right in. One's heart aches for him as he watches three other kids slurping up spaghetti (with spaghetti everywhere), even as he eats his broccoli with a fork. Other times, though, you can see that even though he's holding back, he's not unhappy. He's made a particular choice and is living with it.
Because of the quick resolution of the plot, I think that Edward Gets Messy, despite some challenging vocabulary words, is more suited to preschoolers than to elementary school kids. It would be simply perfect for a child who, like Edward, shies away from participating in school. It would also make a very fun read-aloud to a pre-k classroom or storytime. Edward Gets Messy is a book that kind of sneaks up on the reader, and is hard to resist. Recommended, especially for younger listeners and classroom settings.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (@SimonKids)
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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