Pamela Duncan Edwards was born in Liverpool in the United Kingdom, but has been living in the United States for around twenty-five years, where here husband works in the newspaper business and they have had two sons. She was greatly influenced in her love for reading by her father, who wrote stories for children’s magazines. She taught preschool while in the UK and became a Children’s Librarian when she came to the US. She loves working with children and inspiring them with laughter and learning. Her books are wonderful for teaching student readers lessons of language and life, but they are never heavy handed with their lesson. They always keep the kids very entertained, laughing, and endlessly rewarded. As a former educator, Pamela focuses on engaging children in during her school visits to teach them lessons, as in his books.
Dinosaur Starts School
Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrated by Deborah Allwright
Lots of books have been written about the first day of school jitters and Duncan has produced one of her own. In this story, our young protagonist has a dinosaur friend (real or imagined) and he is the one who tells his big friend that there is nothing to fear about heading off to school. The opening spread with the big dinosaur hiding his head under a pillow sets the stage for this tongue in cheek lesson. Off they go to school because schools help you grow up to be smart. They will not get lost at school, painting can be fun, and lunch can be intimidating–especially if you do not like what is on the menu. Even if you are shy, another classmate may ask you to play and then you can have a glorious time on the swings, seesaw, in the sandbox, and playing tag. It is all such fun that both the young boy and the dinosaur will be back the next day. Loosely drawn illustrations convey the humor, and the big size of the dinosaur leads to even more smiles (what could ever frighten someone so large?). The book could be used for those heading off to preschool or kindergarten. 2008, Albert Whitman, $16.99. Ages 3 to 5. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).
The Mixed-Up Rooster
Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrated by Megan Lloyd
“What’s the use of a rooster who can’t wake up at the right time?” asks Daisy Mae the hen as she fires Ned the rooster. Lloyd’s illustrations show us that Daisy Mae has been keeping records of Ned’s efforts to rouse the henhouse in a timely manner. Sleepy Ned is depicted wearing purple slippers and clutching his teddy bear. Ned watches as Daisy Mae interviews replacement roosters and hires a very operatic fellow. Ned sulks around until evening when he meets a variety of nocturnal animals and begins to enjoy being awake when everyone in the henhouse is sleeping. They spend the night playing bat tag, dancing with rabbits, and singing with the frogs. Their great enjoyment is brilliantly evident in the double spread depicting their “wonderful time.” This revelry is interrupted when Ned notices a large black snake heading for the henhouse. “Ned crowed as he had never crowed before.” His excellent cock-a-doodle-dooing and shouts of “snake attack” rouse the hens. The snake is dispatched while the “new” rooster sleeps through the entire commotion (with curlers in his tail feathers). Daisy tells the other hens not to be upset with this since “he is not a night bird.” Daisy Mae’s leadership abilities are evident as she decides to make Ned the “night watch rooster.” He is last seen decked out with a large set of keys, a whistle, a serious flashlight, field glasses (the better to spot trouble), a walkie-talkie (to alert Daisy Mae), and, of course, his teddy bear. Official cap perched on his comb, he is ready for whatever might threaten the hens during the dark of night–enjoying the night while the hens sleep in the safety of his protection. Look again and again at the entertaining illustrations for a treat to tickle your funny bone. 2006, HarperCollins, $15.99 and $16.89. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Sheilah Egan (Children’s Literature).
Why the Stomach Growls
Pamela Duncan Edwards
Illustrated by Bridget Starr Taylor
As Pamela Duncan Edwards notes in her introduction, mankind is always looking for an explanation as to its origins and the world around us. Over the centuries stories or myths have been created to explain things. Some myths explain how and why humans were created. Pamela has taken what she has read and created her version of why the stomach growls based on West African mythology. Her story is presented as a play, and in this account, the body parts were created (the creator is a female which is a pleasant change) and placed in a beautiful garden. The stomach was created last and given no real role, so it turned to mischief. Finally with all the body parts quarrelling, the Creator stepped in and solved the problem. People came into being and the stomach finally had a role. Three times a day it growls to let the body know that it is time to eat. In addition to being a creation tale, this is also a “pourquoi” story to explain why our stomachs growl. The art is true to the author’s intention of setting the action as a play. It is a small stage and young actors manipulate the body parts like giant puppets. I would not be surprised if some creative teachers used the book just that way, as a play script. 2006, Sleeping Bear Press, $15.95. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children’s Literature).
Pamela’s programs are very child inclusive and are funny as well as educational. She begins by telling students where she gets her ideas from and then shares her editing process–what happens to a book when it reaches the publisher until it finally appears as a book in their library. She also has students look for hidden items in blown-up versions of her books illustrations.
For little ones she then shows what her next book MIGHT be about and ask them to verbally edit it for her with suggestions as to how to make it a better story. For older students they will create a story together, perhaps based on the character of her next book or on a new character suggested by them.
Next she shares funny stories from when she was growing up, that had an effect on her wanting to be an author. She has the first book she ever wrote, at the age of eight, so she can compare what she could do then to what she does now. She concludes with a question and answer session. Pamela’s programs are geared for children from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade and she does change her presentations to suit the age group.
To learn more about Pamela Duncan Edwards and her publications please visit www.pameladuncanedwards.com.