Edward the emu was sick of the zoo,
There was nowhere to go, there was nothing to do,
And compared to the seals that lived right next door,
Well being an emu was frankly a bore.
From cuddly wombats we move to the somewhat less cuddly, but no less culturally significant, emu. Turning once again to our dear friends at Wikipedia:
The emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is the second-largest living bird by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. It is endemic to Australia where it is the largest native bird and the only extant member of the genusDromaius…The emu is an important cultural icon of Australia, appearing on the coat of arms and various coins. The bird features prominently in Indigenous Australian mythology.
In this endearing, rhyming version of the classic “the grass is always greener” story, Edward the emu has grown bored of his life, and decides to try out living like his neighbors in the zoo. He tries swimming with the seals, lounging with the lions, and slithering with the snakes. In the end, of course, he realizes that the best thing for an emu to do is be an emu. When Edward returns to his pen he discovers a feathered surprise waiting for him, one that hints at future Edward adventures to come (there is a sequel, called Edwina the emu, that features Edward and his new love interest).
Sheena Knowles’ rhyming text really is fantastic. I’m pretty particular when it comes to rhyming picture books – creating lively, bouncing text that rolls naturally off the tongue is not as easy as slapping two rhyming words on the ends of two sentences. There’s a lot more skill involved in it than that, and Knowles’ text is delightful to read aloud with a group.
Stories about finding self-acceptance and becoming comfortable in one’s own identity abound in children’s literature, and Edward the emu certainly doesn’t break any new ground, but it is a fun, lighthearted story that wears its moral lightly, and never comes across as heavy-handed. And how often do you get to read about emus, anyway? Not nearly enough, that’s how often!
Sheena Knowles is based in Victoria, Australia, and award-winning author/illustrator Rod Clement lives in Sydney.
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