Is it me? Am I finally warming up to Wallace Edwards? Or is he getting steadily more charming?
I read Alphabeasts, published in 2002, and, like many ABC books, I found the word choices to be a bit strained, a bit advanced for the audience. I think it's a common problem with ABC books - are they really for children who are just learning their letters? or is the alphabet framework just a fun thing to hang a clever concept onto?
And then I read Monkey Business, Edwards's book of illustrated idiomatic phrases, and while I marveled and oohed and ahhed at the art (ohh, that cover!), at the same time I kind of shook my head. I felt that the phrases illustrated in that book were likely to zoom over the heads of most young children. Experience bore me out on that one, by the way. It did not circulate in our library system very well, yet every adult that I handed it to loved looking at it.
But now, The Cat's Pajamas - same premise, same masterful artwork - charms me completely. Do his animal characters possess a smidge more expression? Are the compositions a titch less crowded? Are the idioms illustrated just a hair more commonplace? I don't know. I think so. What a treat. On a page captioned, "Wade had never driven a submarine before, so he couldn't wait to get his feet wet," a frog drives a Buck Rogers-y striped minisub past colorful reef fish and a skeptical-looking octopus. The submarine has holes for Wade's legs, so his feet, indeed, are wet. As Camilla the Camel waits for the Oasis Express, she "cools her heels," with each foot plunged into a luscious ice cream cone, a blissed-out expression on her face.
Oh yea, oh verily. If you like Wallace Edwards, you'll love this. If you are lukewarm on Wallace Edwards, this book will bring you up to a merrily rolling boil.