Sometimes I wander through the children’s section of the library and wait for a cover to catch my eye. Like this one:
Look at that stack of books in big sister’s arms. See her expectant, even eager, face. Look at that darling toddler with a stuffy in his arms. Perhaps he’s looking a little recalcitrant? What will this story be about?
It’s the story of an older sibling’s desire to connect with the eagerly anticipated baby. And in this case, the connection is through the love of reading. But babies aren’t born appreciating the written word.
Hazel discovers that reading to her baby brother, Edgar, isn’t much different than reading to her stuffy or a pillow….or a watermelon. So she must be patient.
Edgar gets older. He starts to point and grunt….”like a pointing, grunting watermelon.”
Hazel is dying to hear Edgar’s first real “word,” so she knows she’s got some kind of sentient being for a brother.
And when Edgar finally does produce his first word,
it is a roar. This becomes the only word that Edgar speaks in every situation. In a series of vignettes, Hazel does her best to play with Edgar, the end result being one increasingly emphatic
Hazel doesn’t give up. The scenery changes. Her attempts become more desperate. Hazel reaches her limit. She is ready to scream.
Hazel and Edgar end up in the bath together with mom saying:
“When you’re a mother….you’ll agree there’s nothing sweeter than hearing your baby talk for the first time.”
Tell me you’re not smiling in sympathy with Hazel at Mom’s ironic statement.
Hazel changes her tactics and tries to teach Edgar how to say “Yes,” with no results.
In a hilarious spread, she imagines Edgar’s future as an older child and then as an adult, always saying
Finally, it is bedtime, one of many bedtime reading sessions that have ended with disappointing results. But this time, something is different. Mom puts Edgar in Hazel’s lap.
Edgar got as far as “Nnn” before a tired-baby gravity settled him on her lap.
Edgar felt as weighty as two Edgars.
He leaned back, a heavy-headed, warmly cuddled, not-no-saying lamb of a ram.
Hazel began to read.
And when she gets to the end of the story, it is quiet. Until Edgar says his second word:
And then his third word:
In the final spread the illustrator pulls in close to fill the page with the two children’s faces, the thrill of connection clearly evident. A lovely, poignant moment.
Surprisingly, there are only four reviews on Amazon for this book. If you read Edgar’s Second Word, please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Every bit of reader love helps!
- Make your own board book for a younger sibling. Cut thick card stock into pages in whatever size you prefer. Write and draw the concept or “story” on the pages. Use a hole punch and ribbon to gather the pages together. Or you can use family photos or cut illustrations from magazines, glue them on, write your story on the pages, and then laminate them before three hole punching and gathering together into the final book.
- Discuss how to be kind to siblings.
- Tips on how to prepare an older child for the new baby.
TITLE: Edgar’s Second Word
Author: Audrey Vernick
Illustrator: Priscilla Burris
Publisher: Clarion, 2014
Ages: K-3rd grade
Themes: New baby, patience, reading
For more perfect picture book recommendations, check out Susanna Hill’s blog.