While less moralizing and more skillful text and art would have made this book even better, its whimsy and wordplay make it...

A Doodle-Head Named Whompi

This well-meaning first book of Doodle-Head celebrates differences.

Lafferty sets a fairy-tale tone from the opening line: “This is the story of Whompi, a Doodle-Head who lived in Doodle-Valley, where everything was as it always had been.” The debut author’s unpolished color illustrations show Whompi dressed as a little boy who seems to have a clump of grass for hair. The border of purple bubbles lends a bouncy, celebratory feel. Circumstances shift in Doodle-Valley when Whompi discovers some “doodlelicious” purple balls. After watching as white songbirds, then brown ants eat the berries and turn purple, Whompi gets hungry and saves purple balls for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When friends come looking for him, they laugh at his purple color—and run away. Dejected, Whompi falls asleep on the balls he calls Bumpulumps, and his friends realize they shouldn’t have teased and abandoned Whompi. Flat statements, such as “Whompi was happy to have his friends back and was not sad anymore,” do little to heighten suspense or raise emotional stakes. Soon, all the boys eat Bumpulumps and feel special as they do “their headstands while being purple from head to toe.” Although they worry what their parents will say, none of the seven fathers (no mothers) is angry. “The parents told the worried little Doodle-Heads that everything would be okay,” though the boys have to promise not to try anything new again without asking their parents first. The parents, who remember eating the purple balls, are happy they can still eat them occasionally. Whompi suggests a new holiday when all can eat Bumpulump cake and play Bumpulump games. The Doodle-Heads “shouted ‘Yeess!’ six times, and that made it official. All was as it had been before, but now it was even better.”

While less moralizing and more skillful text and art would have made this book even better, its whimsy and wordplay make it worth a try.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493583713

Page Count: 36

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2014

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            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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A rollicking tale of rivalry.


Sweet Street had just one baker, Monsieur Oliphant, until two new confectionists move in, bringing a sugar rush of competition and customers.

First comes “Cookie Concocter par excellence” Mademoiselle Fee and then a pie maker, who opens “the divine Patisserie Clotilde!” With each new arrival to Sweet Street, rivalries mount and lines of hungry treat lovers lengthen. Children will delight in thinking about an abundance of gingerbread cookies, teetering, towering cakes, and blackbird pies. Wonderfully eccentric line-and-watercolor illustrations (with whites and marbled pastels like frosting) appeal too. Fine linework lends specificity to an off-kilter world in which buildings tilt at wacky angles and odd-looking (exclusively pale) people walk about, their pantaloons, ruffles, long torsos, and twiglike arms, legs, and fingers distinguishing them as wonderfully idiosyncratic. Rotund Monsieur Oliphant’s periwinkle complexion, flapping ears, and elongated nose make him look remarkably like an elephant while the women confectionists appear clownlike, with exaggerated lips, extravagantly lashed eyes, and voluminous clothes. French idioms surface intermittently, adding a certain je ne sais quoi. Embedded rhymes contribute to a bouncing, playful narrative too: “He layered them and cherried them and married people on them.” Tension builds as the cul de sac grows more congested with sweet-makers, competition, frustration, and customers. When the inevitable, fantastically messy food fight occurs, an observant child finds a sweet solution amid the delicious detritus.

A rollicking tale of rivalry. (Picture book. 4-8 )

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-91885-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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