Edgar’s Second Word by Audrey Vernick

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Edgar’s Second Word, a picture book written by Audrey Vernick and illustrated by Priscilla Burris (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, Ages 3-6), is reviewed today by Cathy Ballou Mealey. obj488geo264pg21p25

Oh how sweet sister-to-be Hazel longs to welcome her baby brother! She’s drawn pictures and posters, chosen special bedtime stories, and practiced reading to her stuffed bunny, Rodrigo. But as Hazel finds in Audrey Vernick’s newest picture book, Edgar’s Second Word, babies don’t always want to go along with the plan.

Hazel and Edgar’s mother dutifully notes all of Edgar’s firsts in his baby book, while Hazel waits patiently for Edgar to do more than grunt and point. His first word, NO, is celebrated and then quickly deplored as it becomes Edgar’s go-to response to all opportunities for entertainment.

Burris’ artwork is spot-on cheerful and bright for her young audience. Warm yellow tones and lovely lilac hues are nicely accented with springtime greens. Nothing is too perfect or precise, and delightfully captures Hazel’s springy curls, bubbly bath, and cozy bed. The detail contrast with plaids, polka-dots and zig zags adds lovely textural interest to every spread.


Interior artwork from Edgar’s Second Word by Audrey Vernick with illustrations by Priscilla Burris, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

Readers will know from the title that Edgar does eek out a second word by the book’s end. But the surprise is that there is also a third word that wraps the story to a harmonious and clever close. Edgar’s Second Word is a fresh, appealing story accenting the positive aspects of sibling relationships while underscoring the virtues of patience and persistence. -       Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey -       Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from my library and received no compensation.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

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Flashlight by Lizi Boyd, Chronicle Books, 2014.

Lizi Boyd’s wordless picture book, Flashlight (Chronicle Books, $15.99, Ages 2-6) makes darkness delightful, full of fun creatures to be found by a little boy camping out in the woods.

Just one flashlight shining upwards highlights bats, a surprised looking owl and raccoons all hidden in their normally pitch black homes. Shining downwards and watch out! Some skunks are nearby. Boyd’s artwork of simple grays and whites and a touch of color creates the woodsy environment suddenly brought to life by the beam of the boy’s flashlight. There’s a chalkboard quality about the illustrations that will appeal to all ages. And it wasn’t until I turned to the second enchanting spread that I noticed the clever die cuts revealing new nighttime treasures with every turn of the page.

Without words, and only images to steer the story forward, this book enables parents to take advantage of a wonderful opportunity to make up a narrative or listen as youngsters invent their own tale. Boyd’s sense of humor shines, too, as the woods get more and more full of animals and then the little boy trips, only to have his flashlight picked up by one of the forest creatures, then another and more still. This unexpected yet welcome turn of events is sure to please even the littlest of readers. It will make the next camping trip your family takes a most looked-forward-to adventure.


Buy this book, add an adorable roaring tiger flashlight or even a mini MagLite, and you’ve got yourself one birthday present that will light up the face of any child that receives it.






Weasels by Elys Dolan

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- ALSC Notable Children’s Books
⭐︎Starred Reviews – School Library Journal & Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books -


Weasels by Elys Dolan, Candlewick Press, 2014.

What do weasels do with their time when they’re not being chased by monkeys around mulberry bushes? According to Elys Dolan, debut author and illustrator of the uproarious picture book Weasels, (Candlewick Press; 2014, $17.99, Ages 5-8) they drink coffee, eat cookies, and …

… plot world domination!

All of this plotting to take over the world is done from an elaborate high-tech secret lab. All systems are go until a blackout shuts down the whole operation and mayhem takes place while the weasels try to fix the problem.

Dolan’s anthropomorphized weasels are reminiscent of characters from an Austin Powers movie. The evil mastermind weasel even strokes a little pet while orchestrating his villainous plot. Children will have fun with all the opportunities to find humorous details in the elaborate multi-media illustrations as well as in the backdrop of conversations between the weasels. My personal favorite is one weasel putting out a fire with an extinguisher while the other says,

“I just thought a few candles would cheer the place up.”

I missed the cause of the blackout my first time reading Weasels. Going back through the book, I could see why. Dolan’s use of color and action threw me off course, but in a good way. The one white weasel in the book, both creates the problem and ultimately solves it. Only one question remains; Will the weasels take over the world? There must be a sequel to this book.