TIFFKY DOOFKY

Steig can dress a floppy-eared, benign-looking dog in vest, armbands, and bow tie, give him the somehow perfectly suitable name of Tiffky Doofky, make him a jolly garbage collector on his way to a picnic—and who can resist going along? Tiffky Doofky is even more eager to get to the picnic after a visit to Madam Tarsal the fortuneteller, a duck who predicts that "This very day before the sun goes down, you will fail in love with the one you are going to marry. Nothing you can do can keep it from happening." But Tiffky Doofky never does make the party, for on the way he runs into a bike-riding biddy in baboushka who sends him off to a strange landscape and a series of dreamlike encounters. (The hen, it seems, is an evil rival of Madam Tarsal, maliciously enchanting Tiffky Doofky until she loses interest and he wakes up back in familiar territory—but Steig puts this information in parentheses as if scorning the pretense of working it into the story.) The duck's prophecy is fulfilled delightfully when Tiffky Doofky, dreaming of a gentle, sinuous caress, wakes to find himself in the coils of a boa constrictor—but the snake's carnival trainer, following close behind, is the pink-frocked poodle he's been waiting for. She might, however, disappoint readers with her pale, prissy appearance. But who's to quibble, when the whole is as good-naturedly loose as Tiffky Doofky himself, as arbitrary as vindictive magic—or falling in love.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 1978

ISBN: 0374477485

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1978

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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