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Edwardo the Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World


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A touching and thought-provoking parable from the brilliant John Burningham that highlights the dangers of judging too quickly.

About the Author

John Burningham was born in 1936. He studied illustration at the Central School of Art. His first children's book, Borka, was published in 1963, and it was awarded the Kate Greenaway Medal as the best illustrated book of the year. John Burningham collaborated with Ian Fleming on Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, designing the model of the famous car. He lived in London with his wife Helen Oxenbury, also a well-known author and illustrator. John Burningham died on January 4th, 2019.


Burningham's (Hushabye) delightfully inverted cautionary tale introduces an "ordinary boy" whose less than exemplary behavior elicits a host of hyperbolic responses that only exacerbate the problem. When Edwardo makes noise, he is called "the noisiest boy in the whole wide world," after which the lad "became noisier and noisier"; when he chases the cat, he is accused of being "the cruelest boy in the whole wide world" and then becomes "more and more cruel." The admonitions culminate in the moniker revealed in the book's subtitleAbut then a series of inadvertent good deeds comically turns the tide of opinion. After Edwardo maliciously tosses a bucket of water over a dog, its owner thanks him for washing his muddy pooch and the boy begins to take care of other people's pets. The clutter that the untidy child tosses out of his bedroom window happens to land in a donations truck and Edwardo is praised for his generosity. Readers may not be surprised but will surely be satisfied when the seemingly reformed Edwardo is finally heralded as "the nicest boy in the whole wide world." Burningham's spare, whimsical watercolors amplify the wry humor of this look at the effects of actions and reactionsAmisguided or not. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

PreS-Gr 3-A thinly disguised discourse on the dangers of a discouraging word and on living up (or down) to labels. Edwardo appears to be the most ordinary of healthy, energetic boys-full of standard-issue snips and snails and puppy-dog tails-doing the most ordinary of things: making noise and messes, eschewing soap and water, and occasionally being not in the best of tempers. It's only when the negative grown-ups around him assert that he is the noisiest, nastiest, dirtiest boy ever that Edwardo turns terrible. In fact, as long as they already think it, he might as well be "the horriblest boy in the whole wide world." Can a kind word from a thoughtful adult nurture what's nice in little Edwardo (still occasionally dirty, clumsy, noisy, and rude)? You betcha. Fans of Burningham will delight in his witty, winsome pictures, so full of animation and expression, and perhaps all readers will take a second or two to consider the impact of hastily chosen words. An important message with a special delivery.-Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

This book has all the ingredients that Burningham's fans pounce on: a sharp, clear-sighted edge, grace and wit -- Sally Williams * Independent *
A wonderfully cautionary tale; subtly told and beautifully illustrated -- Kate Agnew * Guardian *
The book is a series of funny adventures and misunderstandings with a reassurance that even if, inevitably, you are sometimes untidy, noisy or cruel, you still have the potential to be lovely -- Nicolette Jones * The Sunday Times *
Young readers will be shocked, fascinated and amused by Edwardo's misdeeds whilst also identifying with his horriblest moments . . . A tour de force * Books for Keeps *
A wonderful book about seeing the best in people * Junior *

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