Terrible, Horrible Edie, by E.C. Spkyman
originally published in 1960;
reissued in 2010 by the New York Review Children’s Collection
I’ve recently met a heroine who easily makes it into my List of Favorite Epic Girl Characters along with the likes of Titty Walker, Scout Finch, Permanent Rose, Mary Lennox, and others. Overflowing with Feistyness!
Her name is Edie Cares. She’s 10 years old. And she’s quite lucky to resemble a cat in apparently having nine lives since in just one summer she runs through several of them due to her wild-eyed escapades.
Terrible, Horrible Edie is one of four novels written in the ’50s and ’60s about the Cares family by E. C. Spykman. They take place in Massachusetts in the early 1900s, but these are not stories about prim little girls taking tea and boys playing stickball. Oh my, no. They’re about a jangle of kids siren-drawn to calamity and ruckus. The New York Review Children’s Collection has chosen this one to reissue, but if you’re lucky enough you might find the others: A Lemon and a Star, The Wild Angel, and Edie on the Warpath.
As toEdie, she isn’t really terrible. I might call her… incorrigible. Irrepressible. Fiercely determined. With a temper running a bit hottish and a tendency to not mince words. A reckless adventurer. Undaunted in situations when anyone else would simply fold her cards. A snitch impulsive. And entirely lovable.
Of course, from Edie’s standpoint, her behavior is entirely warranted. Her parents have skipped off to Europe for the summer leaving her with three older siblings with a tendency to disparage, two half-sisters both babyish and troublesome, and various and sundry nanny-types doling out rules and scowls, all residing in the oceanside summer house.
Anyone can see that in such circumstances, times inevitably arise which require slipping out of (unreasonable) punishments, running away from home, and telling people off.
There are a couple of death-defying sailing adventures, a rousing adventure among sheepherders, a hurricane that blows up with a vengeance, and a tingly mystery of some stolen jewels. Edie lands in the thick of every one, with enough moxie to confound a five-star general.
Humorous and lively, full of danger and hot-blooded rebellion. I laughed aloud and relished each chapter. If I had known about these books when my kids were small we would have read them all aloud. A great choice for listeners ages 7 and up-up-up; independent readers probably want to be at least age 10 or 11 to manage some archaic terms.