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The Tell-Tale Start: The Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe, Book 1

Review

The Tell-Tale Start: The Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe, Book 1

Written by Gordon McAlpine, Illustrated by Sam Zuppardi

The Poe twins, descendants of the famous 19th-century author Edgar Allan Poe, share their great-great-great-great-granduncle’s taste for the mysterious and macabre. Edgar and Allan love pulling pranks, performing kooky experiments and decoding secret messages. What’s more, they can read each other’s mind. While the boys are busy wreaking havoc on their school, the mysterious P.O.E.S society is conducting a diabolical experiment --- and it seems the identical twins are its test subjects.

"Gordon McAlpine playfully mixes genres, borrowing elements of sci-fi, mystery, horror, adventure and farce to create a style all its own."

It all starts when a suspicious looking man named Ian Archer arrives at the Poes' school, yanking strands of their hair for DNA tests. The boys begin to suspect that they’re being watched by Archer and his accomplices. They soon find themselves on a road trip with their aunt and uncle to rescue the family’s cat. The journey culminates with a showdown at a Wizard of Oz-themed amusement park. Of course, the danger is not really past; the series is just getting started. We’re left puzzling over many questions: How is the P.O.E.S. connected to the twins' parents' fatal accident? What is the nature of the boys’ extraordinary telepathic connection? What perils lie ahead for Edgar and Allan?

Gordon McAlpine playfully mixes genres, borrowing elements of sci-fi, mystery, horror, adventure and farce to create a style all its own. He throws in a generous helping of literary references, encouraging young readers to pick up books by Poe and others. In addition to Poe’s stories, he invokes those of Frank L. Baum, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and T.S. Eliot. Sam Zuppardi’s illustrations are the perfect match for the off-kilter narrative. (See if you can spot his private message in the back of the book!)

I especially enjoyed the inventive sections entitled “Mr. Poe in the Great Beyond,” which describe the author in a sort of limbo between heaven and earth, sitting in an office cubicle and writing fortunes for fortune cookies. Poe deliberately breaks the office rules by interfering with events on earth, trying to protect his great-great-great-great-grandnephews by sending them unauthorized messages. McAlpine also creates suspense by incorporating secret memos, e-mails, text messages, and other documents under the heading “What The Poe Twins Did Not Know.” The reader is made aware of the imminent danger long before the heroes have a clue. These are just a few examples of the author’s clever storytelling. THE MISADVENTURES OF EDGAR & ALLAN POE is shaping up to be a fun and quirky series.

Reviewed by Emma Kantor on January 7, 2013

The Tell-Tale Start: The Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe, Book 1
Written by Gordon McAlpine, Illustrated by Sam Zuppardi

  • Publication Date: January 10, 2013
  • Genres: Children's, Fiction, Humor, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile
  • ISBN-10: 0670784915
  • ISBN-13: 9780670784912