Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Tell Tale Start

The Tell-Tale Start:  The Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe
by Gordon McAlpine
Puffin, 2013
Audience:  Grades 3 to 6
Reviewed from NetGalley
ISBN:  9780142423462
Publication Date: September 12, 2013

Edgar and Allan Poe are twins that are quite clever, maybe too clever actually as they frequently pull pranks to make their lives, and the lives of those around them, more interesting.  Mostly they try to make life a little better for their classmates by getting field trips rerouted and stopping bullies.  Now they are in big trouble, actually suspended for cheating on a test, but what the principal, or anyone really, doesn't understand is that Edgar and Allan are two boys with one brain-everything they think and feel is felt and thought by the other.  This strangeness, and the fact that they are the many times great nephews of THE Edgar Allan Poe makes for an interesting storyline that involves quantum entanglement, wacky hijinks, a mad scientist, The Wizard of Oz, and a cat.  Readers that enjoy misadventures of miscreants will love this book!

I first heard of this book in Publisher's Weekly in an article about how the illustrator used the acknowledgements to propose to his girlfriend.  This is not the type of book one would normally use for an engagement, but I wish the couple nothing but happiness!

Why should reader's start another series about twins trying to escape, yet compulsively follow, a bad guy?  Mostly because it's funny.  And there are big time ties to greater literature.  The twins love the works of their namesake and his stories and poems are referenced often.  Now, Poe might be a little above the heads of the target audience, but it is still good to start influencing readers early.  Edgar Allan Poe is also a character in the book, who is working his way through the afterlife by writing fortune cookie fortunes under the supervision of Mr. William Shakespeare.  So even though this book has plenty of middle grade humor (although it's never crass), it also alludes to the greatest writers in history.

And the physics!  Of course there's physics!  The twins might be so connected due to quantum entanglement, a theory that states that two particles can act exactly the same despite a large distance.  Or, as Albert Einstein called it, spooky action at a distance.  (That's true!  I thought that sounded so ridiculous but I looked it up on Wikipedia.  Einstein derided the idea of  quantum entanglement, a term coined by Erwin Schrodinger, rather he said "spukhafte Fernwirkung"  which roughly translates to "spooky action at a distance".  It's sad that I find this interesting).  I haven't had a chance to ask one of the physics professors about this yet, mostly because I'm afraid I'll end up getting a big lecture, but I do indeed to learn more.

Of course there will be more tales of Edgar and Allan as they seek to find out more about their entanglement and such.  But it's nice to read a book that gives you answers to some questions and doesn't randomly pick up and leave off others.  For readers that find the evasiveness of the All the Wrong Questions Series or The Incorrigble Children of Ashton Place frustrating, The Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe will leave them satisfied and looking forward to more.  

Happy Reading!

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