The Tell-Tale Start: The Misadventures of Edgar & Allen Poe, Book 1

By . 3 CDs. 3:14 hrs. Prod. by Listening Library. Dist. by Listening Library/Books on Tape. 2013. ISBN 978-0-385-36808-7. $27.
Gr 3–8—Identical orphaned twins, Edgar and Allen Poe, are great-great-great-great grandnephews of the gothic poet of the same name. They share one brain, apparently, and literally think as one due to a "scientific" theory called quantum entanglement. This makes them mischievous pranksters and far smarter than the teachers at their middle school. The text has frequent references to the titles of Poe's famous Victorian horror stories, and they often drive the plot, as well as the title of the first book in the series. The misadventure involves expulsion from school, the kidnapping of their precocious black cat, and a wild goose chase to a ratty Wizard of Oz theme park. In an odd deus ex machina move, the dead poet is brought in from the "great beyond" to attempt to warn the twins of the nefarious intents of Professor Marvel, who has set a trap. Adding to the humor, the poet uses fortune cookie messages and license plates to deliver his warnings. A smart construct is the use of alternating chapters titled, "What the Poes did NOT know," because the plot thickens when listeners know more than the protagonists. Narrator Artie Johnson (Laugh-In) gets the tongue-in-cheek timing perfectly and is a delight. An additional accompaniment to Poe's classic works.—Lonna Pierce, MacArthur & Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Binghamton, NY

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