Saturday, January 8, 2011


This is an emu.
Small head. Huge body. Long neck. Long legs. Feathered. Ugly. Pretty.

This is also an emu.
It is called Edwina. And yes, she's wearing a god-forbidden very pretty red tutu. -____-'''

Don’t get me wrong. I love Edwina. As a matter of fact, Edwina is quite an emu. Much to my surprise, this story - ‘Edwina the Emu’ actually managed to catch my attention. You see, when I first saw her, I cringed. Not a very big fan of this ostrich lookalike due to an unfortunate childhood event. And the illustrations weren’t helping. I was utterly disturbed. But then again, to kids, Australian kids rather, these emus might just be their favourite feathered-creature. Edwina is after all of Australian nationality, so to speak. That aside, what really piqued my interest was its storyline.

In this sequel to ‘Edward the Emu’, Edwina who has just laid 10 eggs tells Edward to stay home and watch them while she heads out into the world to look for a job. Out there, Edwina tries her luck in various fields such as ballet dancing and chimney sweeping, both of which she was turned away and fired respectively for her ‘emu-ness’. When she finally lands herself in a job as a waiter, she quits instead after freaking out at the discovery of a product which she is to serve – eggs.

no wonder. poor thing.

Unlike most children stories I’ve come to know, this story is one that comes across bringing more than just issues of morals and virtues. It provides a peek into some worthy topics uncommon to stories for the young. Stylistically, this story is written in simple English with repetitive rhyme, simple plot and just two major characters – Edwina and her partner, Edward. The constant sentence pattern that it is written in allows kids to capture the story faster and more efficiently. Like most stories, it is direct to the point and doesn’t complicate.

What makes it different however, is the underlying message it is trying to convey. At the beginning of this story itself, there is already a strong sense of feminism; which is a very rare issue to be raised in a children story. Not that this is surprising at all to the Australian society where women have pretty powerful say in the country. Look at Julia Gillard, Kristina Keneally, to name a few. But in the Malaysian context, this is fairly new. Edwina, representing the females, is out working while Edward, the representation of males is the homemaker; seemed somewhat irrelevant to societies where men is always seen as the breadwinner. Nevertheless, interpretation is subjective. One can always look at this story in light of the values of equality. ‘Edwina the Emu’ reinforces the message that both men and women should hold a fair share of responsibility in caring for their home. At the same time, it highlights topics of birth (as according to our storyteller :P) and discrimination. Though subtle, these are issues worth noting in assisting a child build his foremost knowledge of them.

If I were to rate this book, I guess I would give it a 7 out of 10. Perhaps a little biased due to the illustrations, but my credits go to the storyline. It promotes the voice of today, unconventional to the traditional perspective of women.

For the love of children stories, I will TRY to not discriminate emus. TRY.

fine. I WILL NOT.

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