Edwardo, The Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World by John Burningham
Oh boy, here is a book that came right in time. Eli and I read it, snapped it shut, and both nodded to each other, as if to say, “Yup. Ok, I get it. I’ll ease up.”
Edwardo, see, he’s not a bad kid, but, like any kid, he sometimes does things that are a little bit bad, like kick things or be a bit mean or have a messy room. But all the hyperbolic adults in Edwardo’s life tell him things like, “You are the roughest boy in the whole wide world!” and as they keep throwing these labels at him, he gets meaner and rougher and sloppier and soon he’s just awful. The horriblest.
But then one day he kicks a flower pot, and someone says, “Hey! Great! I see you’re planting a garden!” And then he dumps water on a dog, meanly, but the dog’s owner thanks him profusely for washing his dog. Edwardo listens to all the nice labels and soon enough he is planting gardens and caring for pets and babysitting. Eventually leading the adults to pronounce him the nicest boy in the whole wide world.
It may be a hit-you-over-the-head message of not labelling kids, of accepting them for the messy bit of contradictions they are. But since often Eli and all his contradictions make me insane, and I think his own mixed-up feelings (which are completely normal for a 3-year-old) confuse him a bit too, it was very nice to read about Edwardo and his exaggerated version of our life. And to know it all turned out ok in the end.