Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas


     This is the story of Eddy; short for Edison because of a crazy old family tradition. He even has an uncle named Beckett Thomas.  I immediately fell in love with Eddy.  He's charming throughout this difficult journey of self-discovery.  When the story opens Eddy is competing at the Drayton Middle School annual Science Fair.  He comes in third and is mad, disappointed that he won't get the chance to compete in the regional science fair.  It is easy to tell from his behavior at the fair that something is a little different about Eddy.  He is affected by loud sounds and has a hard time processing events that occur around him.  As Eddy's story unfolds we never do get a full description of what causes his anxieties but we do learn what brings them out.  He doesn't like loud noises, he doesn't understand common euphemisms, his social skills are low and his speech pattern is more robotic than pre-teenager. He is incredibly smart and loves to tinker around with used parts, trying out a variety of inventions.  When the crossing guard is let go from the intersection closest to school Eddy becomes obsessed with the dangers this could cause to young students. 

     Many of his strong points make him a "geek" at school and because of his social skills he has a difficult time figuring out who his friends really are.  Two of the bigger themes in this book are bullying and friendship. These themes play out as as Eddy tries to figure out why his old friend Mitch sends him such mixed signals.  Eddy does make some real friends who can appreciate all of his good points while gently guiding him through the few little things that cause him trouble. Most of the characters were well-written by Houtman except the school principal and the therapist Eddy sees at school. They both annoyed me. I thought it was ridiculous that the principal didn't realize he was being played and Tiffany, the therapist, didn't have great follow-through with Eddy.  I kept thinking this must be her first year as a therapist! 

But I loved Eddy and was happy to see him begin to understand the true meaning of friendship and to cope with Mitch's behavior.

Perfect Quote:
The last page of the pamplet appeared in his mind.  He began to recite the speech he had prepared.  "I may not be as popular as you-"
"Tell me something I don't know," said Mitch as he found what he had been looking for in his locker and closed the door.      "The square root of 1,225 is 35, but do not change the subject. I may not be as popular as you are, but I am a human being-" Eddy T. (152)
Mitch, who is a very believable bully, goes on to make fun of Eddy but what I love about this quote is it took me reading it twice to get it!!  I love these little bits of subtle humor.  This book would be a great read-aloud for its many themes including its wide use of common euphemisms. The author is a scientist and does such a good job of adding in random bits of essential information, which would make a cool student project-to collect those facts highlighted and study them!  I recieved this from The Picnic Basket.
5/5 stars
elementary fiction

Read more here-

Jacqueline Houtman's blog
Georgia McBride Books
Aurora's Reviews


Tif Sweeney said...

I like the sounds of this one, especially the quote that you included! Adding it to my list!!

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Dropping by to say many thanks for becoming a follower of Pen and Paper. Nice to have met you, I've really enjoyed visiting your site. Best wishes PW.