Author: Mo Willems
Illustrator: Mo Willems
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Audience: Ages 4-8
Summary: Who doesn’t love Edwina? She feeds the birds, plays with children, helps little old ladies across the street, and bakes delicious chocolate chip cookies for everyone. Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie doesn’t love her because she’s a dinosaur and he knows that dinosaurs are extinct. Reginald sets out to prove this to his school class using all the scientific knowledge at his command but the class just leaves to eat some of Edwina’s freshly baked cookies. Reginald is discouraged because no one will listen to him until Edwina volunteers. Edwina listens so attentively to all the facts that Reginald feels wonderful. No one had ever listened to him like that before. Now Edwina realizes that she’s extinct. However she doesn’t care, and by then neither does Reginald who is now eating some of her chocolate chip cookies.
Literary elements at work in the story: As in most Willems’ books, the pictures do the work. The above synopsis may have more words than the story. Edwina is a very large, pale green dinosaur with a pearl necklace, a purse, a beribboned straw hat, and toenail polish. (Possibly a mapusaurus). The pictures convey Reginald as a man on a mission: making posters, distributing leaflets, making noise and dramatizing extinction with appropriate expressions, usually in black and white. The colors are a wash of blues, greens, yellow with lots of space and nothing flamboyant except Reginald’s emotions. By their facial expressions and their actions, it’s easy to see his audience is unimpressed.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to thestory? Edwina is a charming, loving, listening female and Reginald is a hard headed, stubborn, fact obsessed male. These are stereotypes but probably no one will notice.
Theological Conversation Partners: There’s a great deal written these days about the conflict of science and religion. For many, scientific proof is the basis of all knowledge. Children in the designated age group may be experts in trust but belief in the theological sense comes a bit later in development. Still children can feel secure in God’s love without scientific proof at any age. It’s good for the top of this age range to understand what science can and cannot do. The importance of community and relationships in the development of faith is vital. The story of Thomas (John 20:24-29) is a good example of belief resting on proof and faith resting on experience, another kind of proof. Hebrews 11:1,2 is one biblical definition of faith. John 7:20 is Jesus’ guide to certainty about him. And don’t overlook the impact of a good listener. This book could serve as an introduction to a unit of study about creation, conversations about evolution, or any study where science is involved with young people.
Faith Talk Questions for children and youth
- How do the people in the town know Edwina exists?
- Why is Reginald so sure that she doesn’t exist?
- What are some things that can’t be proven by observable facts (goodness, beauty, parent’s love, friendship) ?
- What are some things that science can tell us?
- What clues tell you that your parents love you, that God loves you?
- Why is listening carefully to someone with a problem important?
- Why is a community important for faith?
- A line in a hymn from the 11th C goes, “The love of Jesus, what it is, none but his loved ones know.” Can you explain this?
- Is faith more about facts or about relationships?
Review prepared by regular contributor Virginia Thomas