Edie on the Warpath

edie on the warpathIt’s taken me four years to savor the four books in E.C. Spykman’s series about the Cares family (A Lemon and a Star, The Wild Angel, Terrible, Horrible Edie, and Edie on the Warpath.) They are so good — outrageously good — that I almost had my feelings hurt that no one had ever given them to me as a child. They are as good as Elizabeth Enright’s books, as Edward Eager’s. I would have read them to pieces, and by now I could have had them mostly memorized. But we make do with what we have. And now I have these: books that get children exactly right, good intentions and intentional trouble and huge, fierce emotions and all.

It’s Edie against the world in this volume, as it was in Terrible, Horrible Edie. She is insanely frustrated by her lack of rights and privileges compared to her older brothers Ted and Hubert, especially since they deem her below consideration. When she hears that the suffragette movement could one day give her some say over her own decisions and even let her become president, she takes to it instantly (though she concedes that no president would likely be allowed to put all men into traps.) She rebels, and sometimes takes revenge large and small: she punches a cop at the suffragettes’ parade, which is one thing, but she also concocts an elaborate setup to ruin her condescending brother’s party that had me literally in tears of laughter.

Her best friend, Susan, a minister’s daughter, tries to teach Edie to rely on God to help her. Edie, however, is convinced that God is in on the game, and mostly helps boys and not girls. “That old God,” she says. “He can’t do a thing.” Edie’s brave, strong, quick-thinking life, her love for her surroundings, her adventurous spirit, and her reliance on herself — after all, God might have enough to do, and need smart girls to do some of the work — are the heart and soul of this terrific book.

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8 Responses to Edie on the Warpath

  1. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review says:

    I have heard this title, but never thought much about it. Definitely sounds worth seeking out!

  2. Proper Jennyyyyyy! Why can’t I love these books like you do? I have tried like three times to read Terrible Horrible Edie, and I can’t make any headway with it at all. It is making me sad because I love Elizabeth Enright and I love Edward Eager, and by all reasonable measures, I should love these books also!

    (Btw, speaking of those authors, have you read The Penderwicks? They are very much in the spirit of those authors. I cherish them.)

    • Jenny says:

      Well, they’re worth trying, and you tried them, so well done you. I have given up guessing what books you will like — you and I so often don’t like the same books, even though I so much love your blog — so maybe you just don’t like these books. But you might just try reading the first one. You don’t know Edie yet if you haven’t read them in order.

      And yes! I thought the Pendletons were absolutely terrific!

      • Jenny says:

        p.s. see my reply to Lisa below, too! She is having the same issue you are. You can commiserate.

  3. Lisa says:

    I am in the same boat as the other Jenny. I can’t make any headway with these books, and I so want to. maybe I will read Elizabeth Enright instead, because we are having our first hot weekend, and her books always seem like summer books to me.

    • Jenny says:

      Did you read A Lemon and a Star first? If you can read them in order, do. I do think it is possible that these books enter so deeply into real childhood experience that they would be best read as a child. If I hadn’t read the Melendy books fifty thousand times when I was a kid, would I love them so fiercely now? I don’t know. I can’t get into the Betsy-Tacy books now as an adult at all, for instance.

  4. Jeanne says:

    I might have to try these. Sometimes it helps to read such books to a child. I know I enjoyed some books I never would have liked on my own because of my kids’ reactions to them.
    The Penderwicks in Spring is the newest one. Ron and I read it last weekend, and I felt sulky because Hound has died and Batty misses her almost as much as I miss my recently-lost cat, Sammy. There are some good things in it, though. Lots of “the teenagers” from the younger kids’ point of view.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks — I didn’t even know there was a new one.

      I agree about reading books to kids. Lots of the time, the things they like about a book alert me to what might have been really good about it if I’d read it at that age, even if I am appreciating different things about it now. Like watching Bugs Bunny cartoons then and now. It’s like having a secret, double identity: I used to be one of you!

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