Subscribe to The Horn Book

Excellent Ed

excellent-edIn Excellent Ed, a dog longs for confirmation that he is special and important to his family. Each of the Ellis children are gifted at one thing or another, and Ed wants to know what he contributes to the group. He knows he is good at “forgetting stuff” and “losing stuff,” but is that enough to make him one of the excellent Ellises?

Illustrator Julia Sarcone-Roach uses yellows, blues, and greens to frame each page. The happy, warm expressions of Ed and the Ellis family are drawn in crayon and grease pencil. The Real Committee could recognize this book for its excellence in pictorial interpretation of a concept, which in this case would be the love and loyalty of a dog to his family.

Starting with the endpapers, Ed is featured on every page in various poses and actions that are familiar to any dog owner. He rolls around, scratches his back on the ground, wags his tail, begs his family for food, and digs up dirt. The depictions of his joy and sorrow in his journey to find his gift are palpable. Also, while Ed is clearly the star of the show, it’s lovely to see a family of color (Ed’s family is Black) featured so prominently in a picture book.

I wonder if the Real Committee will find Ed excellent, too.



  1. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    This is a funny book with great illustrations. And the illustrations are unquestionably just right for this text. My students in Kinder and first in our Caldecott reading program gave this book a big thumbs up (meaning they loved it!) for story, illustration and the pairing of this story/text and the illustrations. Ed is such a cute dog – his facial expressions are priceless. He is devoted to his family. He is working really hard to figure out how to be a true member of the family – finding out who he is. Children understand this well. They understand the embarrassing tries and failures. All lushly illustrated and laced with humor. It is, well, excellent!

  2. Sam Juliano says:

    I do like this book, and can’t dispute it being included into this vital year-end Caldecott contender round-up. The yellow, blue and green combination is surprisingly quite effective. I would venture to say it is probably a long-shot to end up in the winner’s circle, what with another year of strong competition, but neither would I count it out. Ms. Roach is one talented artist and last year’s THE BEAR ATE MY SANDWICH is already a classroom classic as well it should be with its alluring impressionist strokes.

    Great piece here.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind