cover image Whoops!


Suzi Moore, illus. by Russell Ayto. Candlewick/Templar, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8180-7

Three animals—a cat that can’t meow, a dog that can’t woof, and a mouse that can’t squeak—seek out an old lady with magical powers, who promises to “find a spell to make you all well.” But while she seems capable of conjuring up something (“She went to look at her big spell book./ She cast a spell, and the whole house shook”), her efforts always leave the three dubious-looking animals assigned to the wrong sound: “And the cat said, baa!/ And the dog said, neigh!/ And the mouse by the shoe/ said, “moo! moo! moo!” Will the old lady ever set things right? Yes, but not before readers are tickled by British author Moore’s heady cocktail of onomatopoeia and rapid-fire rhythms (“There was a bang! and a clang! and a thundering sound./ Then the tumbledown house turned around and around”). Ayto’s (A Very Pirate Christmas) quirky drawings and totemic characters are equally wonderful: each misguided spell gets its own color scheme, and the elderly spell caster, who is often sent airborne by her magical exertions, is one part Dr. Strangelove, one part Iris Apfel. Ages 3–7. (Feb.)