Bill Bowerbird, normally a happy fellow, awakens one morning with a terrible pain in his beak.
Bill is distraught. He has never had a beak-ache before and does not know what to do. Off he goes to seek help from his friends. The owl offers honey, and the zebras allow Bill to take a few of their colorful stripes. Neither helps, but Bill does not give up: he soldiers on, asking friend after friend for advice in rhyming couplets. Though he collects many items to take back to his nest, not one of them relieves his pain, not even the frozen carrot from the walrus who serves as town clerk. By the story’s conclusion, however, Bill is pain-free at last. To his surprise, the pain was only—and very improbably—a new tooth sprouting! Bill celebrates by inviting all of his friends over to thank them with a party before cleaning his nest of all the new stuff. Canadian writer and illustrator Burke’s book is rich with colors—the confetti-striped zebras are an especial treat—but the text suffers. Though the refrain is catchy (“Wickety-tickety BOO-hoo-hoo!”), the rhyming text is often badly forced: “ ‘What to do, what to do?’ Bill loudly wails. / ‘Please help me, friends, to cure this ail!’ ” The plot likewise feels underdeveloped, and its failure to capitalize on what makes real bowerbirds special—their elaborately constructed nests—is a serious missed opportunity.
Skip. (Picture book. 4-7)