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.