Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty. Illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
“All of the Ellis children were allowed to eat at the table and ride in the van and sit on the couch and use the indoor bathroom. Except Ed.” Ed is prohibited from these activities because he’s a dog, not that Ed himself makes any distinction between himself and his human family. But because each of the other Ellis children excels at something—Elaine at soccer, Emily and Elmer at math, Edith at ballet, and Ernie at baking cupcakes—Ed goes in search of what he’s best at. The search leads to answers that are satisfying for Ed and for readers and listeners, too. It’s hard to say which is more appealing in this sparkling picture book, Ed or the entire lively Ellis family, of which Ed is clearly a much-loved member. The wonderful narrative makes judicious use of repetition while the vivacious illustrations are full of humor and warmth. The Ellis family is Black, with children ranging from early-elementary-age to their teens, something typical for many families but not for many picture books. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
- What are some things that Ed does well? What are some things that members of Ed’s family do well? Have you found what you are “excellent at”? Or, are you still looking?
- What does Ed do when someone in the family is better than he is? How do you remind yourself to keep trying your best even though someone else does something better than you?
- How does Ed finally find what he is “excellent at”? What do you do when you feel left out?
- How do the text and the illustrations work together to tell this story?