Whoops! – Perfect Picture Book Friday

It was the cover that called to me from the bookshelf:

Who wouldn’t be drawn in by those eyes. Everyone on this cover looks GUILTY!!! But what is their crime?

Well, it turns out that these three are not the perps. They’re the victims!!! They have lost their voices. The cat can’t meow, the dog can’t bark, and the mouse can’t squeak. Why? Well, it’s a mystery.

This is a perfect read aloud for Halloween, complete with an owl and a witch (an old lady versed in spells) and a tumbledown house.

The owl sends the three in search of the lady in the tumbledown house. Maybe she can cast a spell to give them back their voices.


But do they get their voices back? Well, yes—and no.

“And the cat said, ‘Cluck!’ 

And the dog said, ‘Quack!’

And the mouse (in a shoe) said, ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo!’

And the little old lady said, ‘Whoops!'”

Those of you who write in rhyme may say “Aha! I spot a forced rhyme!” when you see the insertion of the phrase “in a shoe.” Or, “A slant rhyme! ‘Down’ does not rhyme with ‘around!’ Shame! Shame!”

Well, I’m willing to cut the author some slack because it all seems to work. It doesn’t feel clunky; it feels playful and rhythmic, like a well-meaning but inept witch’s incantation.

Let me know if you feel differently.

The vibrant colors featured in the title saturate each spread (my photos don’t do them justice), and the wonderfully stylized cat, dog, and mouse match the tone of the story perfectly.

That little old lady tries new spells again…and again and again, failing a little differently each time, until—

You know how I hate to be the spoiler, right? Suffice to say, the ending is one big surprise that feels so, so, soooo inevitable. So, sooo right!

And that’s the magic that we’re all looking for when we read—and write.

Title: Whoops!

Author: Suzi Moore

Illustrator: Russell Ayto

Publisher: Templar, an imprint of Candlewick, 2016 – U.S. edition

Age Range: Preschool – age 7

For more picture book recommendations, check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

15 thoughts on “Whoops! – Perfect Picture Book Friday

      • Letizia says:

        Thank you for the link – I had such fun looking at his other drawings. I’ve been sketching a lot these days (nothing like this!) so am very drawn to any kind of drawing right now.
        I hope you are not suffering too much from the fires and smoke…. thinking of you xoxo

        • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

          Maybe you should post some of your sketches? Would love to see your work! Air quality has been fluctuating in SF. Was bad yesterday, but is moderate this morning. Plan to take the dog for a walk before it gets bad again this afternoon. We’ve been wearing masks as a precaution. The devastation is unbelievable up north. Many friends either evacuated (who left with nothing) or on notice to be ready with bags packed. Some who already know their houses are gone. Others who don’t know. I have no problems, in comparison.

          • Letizia says:

            The stories are just devastating. It’s good you are wearing a mask. I hope things improve soon, but the rain forecast doesn’t look so good.
            My sketches right now are mainly of dogs so hard to weave that into a blog about reading, but perhaps I can draw one near a book, haha. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Thank you! It was a long time in the making. Russ Cox created the fabulous illustration on the home page. I love the illustrations in this book. They’re just as quirky as the text. Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Diane Tulloch says:

    Ha, I kept looking at the illustrations and then it hit me. “Despicable Me” of course! Aren’t they so like the movie characters…. lol. I swore that old lady looks like his Mum in that movie… especially in that third picture…lol. Love it!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes! I can see similarities, too. The animals’ eyes in this book are so expressive. I keep imagining what they’re thinking as they watch all the spells’ side effects happen around them. Very funny!

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