Building a Sense of Self: Edward the Emu
Sheena Knowles’ Edward the Emu uses colored pencils in a realistic way to tell this silly story with a beautiful message. Edward tries on different identities before discovering that he is happy to be an emu. The story has a very specific rhyming structure with two rhyming sequences per page, which helps to create a predictable, repetitive, rhythmic narrative.
At times the vocabulary is difficult, but within the context, children will begin to understand the meaning of the words and build their vocabulary skills. The pace of the story is almost like a nursery rhyme, with a pair of rhymes per page. It’s sing-songy without being too basic in language to lose meaning.
Rod Clement’s illustrations in this Australian picture book are breathtaking. Each picture is close-up and often the perspective is surprising and humorous. Children can engage with the vivid colors and realism on each spread. Because Edward is compared to each different animal that he visits in the zoo, it is fun for young children to point out similarities and differences between the two kinds of animals. When Edward finally comes face-to-face with a mirror image of himself– when he is replaced at the zoo by a female counterpart, Edwina, the story quietly reminds children that they can feel proud to be themselves.