About the Holiday
January has been designated as Walk Your Pet Month to remind pet owners of the importance of regular exercise for their pooches – or other animals who may enjoy a stroll. Keeping pets fit is one way to make sure they stay healthy and live a long and happy life!
Written by Stacy McAnulty | Illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Ed, the Ellis family’s dog, is feeling a little left out. All five of the children are excellent at something, but not Ed. All the Ellis kids can eat at the table, ride in the car, sit on the couch, and use the indoor bathroom, but not Ed. Each kid has his or her own talent—playing soccer, calculating math, dancing, and baking cupcakes—and while Ed can carry a ball in his mouth, count to 4, spin after his tail, and eat cupcakes, it’s just not the same.
One day Ed wonders—if he was excellent at something, could he have the same perks as the kids? He considers his talents and comes up with what he thinks is a good one. He knows he’s great at breaking stuff! Surely this will earn him a place at the dinner table. But even before he gets going, Elaine runs in with the news that she’s broken the record for most soccer goals in a season. Ed sadly realizes that Elaine is better at breaking stuff than he is.
Again Ed thinks. Suddenly it dawns on him that he’s excellent at losing things—he even lost himself last week! This kind of ability was surely worth a ride in the van. But just as he’s about to jump in, the twins both shout, “I’ve lost a tooth!” Foiled in this attempt, Ed goes back to the drawing board. Hmmm…it was just there, at the tip of his brain…oh, yeah! Ed is fantastic at forgetting stuff! After proving to Dad that he doesn’t remember eating just a minute ago, he’s ready to take his place on the couch. But Ed is thwarted again by Edith, who is thrilled to tell her family that she forgot to be nervous during an audition and is now the lead ballerina.
Ed whimpers. Is there nothing he’s most excellent at? Maybe he doesn’t even belong in the Ellis family. Just then Ernie drops his sandwich and Ed gobbles it up, leaving no crumbs on the floor. “‘Wow, Ed! You are excellent at cleaning the floor,’” Earnie says. When Emily and Elmer come home, Ed runs to meet them and covers them in kisses. “‘Ed! You’re excellent at welcoming us home,’” the twins exclaim. Later, with the couch stuffed with Ellises, Ed lays across Edith’s and Elaine’s feet. “‘Ed is excellent at warming feet,’” Elaine and Edith agree.
Ed wags his tail—he is an excellent floor cleaner, welcomer, and feet warmer! Now he knows why he doesn’t sit at the table, stays home instead of riding in the van, and doesn’t join the family on the couch. He realizes that he is an important part of the Ellis family, and that he’s always loved and appreciated. Now, if only he could figure out that indoor bathroom thing….
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they doubt their place in the world. Stacy McAnulty explores that feeling through Ed, who worries, works the problem, and discovers that he is without a doubt excellent just the way he is. Giving the Ellis kids a variety of ages and talents makes this a great universal book for readers. McAnulty’s twist which turns “negative” gifts for breaking, losing, and forgetting things into triumphs for the Ellis kids is ingenious, adding humor, depth, and “ah-ha! moments” to the story. The mystery of Ed’s abilities is well-kept until the end, and the solution comes as a happy surprise.
Readers will wish they were part of the Ellis family, with their exuberant smiles, supportive cheers, snuggly, crowded couch, and, of course, adorable Ed. Julia Sarcone-Roach’s vivid illustrations are infectious as Ed perks up his ears, rolls his eyes skyward and with tongue out thinks about his situation. Scenes of his shenanigans will elicit giggles, and Ed’s sweet looks and wagging tale will win readers’ hearts.
Pet owners and animal lovers will want to bring Excellent Ed into their families. A wonderful book for story times or those times when you need a little encouragement, Excellent Ed is inspirational for all kids!
Ages 4 – 8
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553510232
Discover more about Stacy McAnulty and her picture books, chapter books, and novels on her website!
View a gallery of picture books, illustration, sketches, and film by Julia Sarcone-Roach on her website!
Walk Your Pet Month Activity
A-maze-ing Pets Maze
When dogs are out for a walk, they love to take circuitous routes as they pick up scents that are too enticing not to follow! Can you find your way through this printable A-maze-ing Pets Maze? Here’s the Solution!
Picture Book Review