My Name is Not Ed Tug by Amy Neilander

My Name Is Not Ed Tug by Amy Neilander. West Margin Press, 2022. 9781513134871

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  “Ed” Tug is only a moniker; his family wanted to honor all of their little boy’s loving older relatives and gifted him with the name “Edimorewhitimormiligimmus Tug”. This acknowledges his Grandpa Edimore, Great Uncle Whitimoor, Aunt Mili, and Granny Gimmus, all shown engaged in wonderful activities with the treasured little boy. The trouble comes when his new teacher, Ms. Mell, refers to him as “Ed”, slapping him with a nametag, even though this leaves her student feeling sad and perplexed. His strategy? Use all the name tags to spell out every part of his crazy name and tell his new friends about all the special people it acknowledges. Edimorewhitimormiligimmus even wins over the dour Ms. Mell with some hot soup. Digital illustrations in earthtones use stylized, cartoonish figures and make the story easy to follow. The main character cues as White, but some relatives appear to be people of color. Brown and white endpapers show Ms. Mell’s multiracial class, each with their own special, albeit complicated, names.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Many kids at my school do have names that are hard for teachers but it’s usually because we’re White and can’t remember or pronounce names of Nigerian or Chinese or Russian origin. It’s a microaggression! Giving the main character a ridiculous made-up name makes it seem like a small or silly problem, but it’s actually a big one. I also didn’t like that Ms. Mell looked like a Victorian nanny, with her balloon sleeves, lace collar, cameo, and pointed witch shoes.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This book doesn’t feel ill-intentioned, but it did fall a bit flat for me. I’d be more likely to recommend THAO: A Picture Book (2021) by Thao Lam or That’s Not My Name! (2022) by Anoosha Syed.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: December 3, 2022

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