Sunday, January 1, 2017

A friend like Ed by Karen Wagner illustrations by Janet Pedersen

"Mildred and Ed had been friends for as long as anyone could remember ... even though some thought Ed a bit unusual."

First a little warning this book from 1998 is out of print.  Here is the good news, though, the internet has given book people like me an easy way to source out of print titles from anywhere around the world and often quite cheaply.

With this in mind I decided it was time for me to find a copy of one of my all time absolute favourite picture book - A friend like Ed.  Just before Christmas my mint condition, hardcover, dust jacketed copy arrived!  Good timing for my first Blog Post of 2017!

In the illustration on the second page we see some of Ed's hobbies.  He collects :

  • buttons
  • feathers
  • left feet socks
  • string
  • pennies
  • pencil stubs

Making this page even more appealing especially to a librarian - Ed classifies these objects.  His buttons are 'shiney', cloth, glass, square, teeny tiny and antique.  His pencil stubs are under 1/2" and over 1/2". His string is wound into a huge ball but Ed's best talent is for making homemade, fudge-frosted, triple-layer cakes and Mildred certainly enjoys sharing a slice or two.

Mildred suggests they try inventing some poetry.  Mildred tries hard but Ed seems to have a natural talent.

Here is a poem by Mildred :
Sunset is beautiful
orange and purple.
Early evening
look so ...

Here is a poem by Ed
Leaves are falling
winter's calling,
Before you know
There will be snow,
So let us should 'hurray'
For this warm and
sunny day.

Ed gets a little carried away with making rhymes and one day he recites a poem about lemons in the middle of supermarket.  Mildred is so embarrassed.  She goes home alone and that night has awful night mares filled with buttons.  The next day Mildred meets Pearl at the ice skating rink. Pearl looks perfect to Mildred but astute readers will notice something is not quite right about her even from her very first words "I can do anything. And I can do it better that anyone else" she declares.  Unfortunately Mildred is so swept up by the idea of a new friend she doesn't notice the true meaning here.  Pearl is a selfish and arrogant girl who will have no idea how to be a real friend.

Mildred goes to a costume party with Pearl but she is trapped at the end of the dragon suit. They go skating on the pond and Mildred asks Pearl to teach her how to twirl but Pearl tells Mildred she should just watch. Meanwhile Ed sits alone, he makes a cake but he cannot eat it so he sorts his buttons over and over again.

Mildred wakes up one morning with a taste for some fudge-frosted, triple-layer cake.  She attempts to make one for herself but on the way to buy the ingredients she sees someone skating on the pond. It is Ed.  When he leaves Mildred stares at what he has done.  He has carved one word in huge letters right into the ice!

Spoiler alert :  Mildred writes a letter to Ed and places it near his door with a small parcel.

"Dear Ed
You may think this is a pen but it is not.  It is a thousand poems waiting to be written. It is a pair of wings to help you fly.  
Love Mildred."

Ed goes over to thank Mildred and arrives just as she is putting the finishing touches on her very lopsided fudge-frosted, triple-layer cake. She is so pleased to see her friend Ed that she climbs onto a kitchen chair and recites a perfect poem just for him.

I hope that you can find a copy of A friend like Ed.  I will begin my school year by reading this to our Grade Two classes.  We will talk about being a friend, quirky collections and of course cake! I also appreciate the way it is not left to Ed or Mildred to 'fix' Pearl.  This aspect of the story will make a good discussion point for my classes.

Here is the cover of my copy :

And with great excitement I have discovered there is a sequel.  It is of course also out of print but I have ordered a copy and YES it has a dust jacket!

You might also enjoy Stanza by Jill Esbaum if you want to explore characters who are talented poets. Check out this review.

1 comment:

kinderbooks said...

My copy has the first cover. You are right about it being the perfect 'librarian' book. I don't have the sequel.