It’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.