Pookie is crying, and he won't say why. He will answer his mom’s yes
or no questions, though. Her questions not only get his
attention; they start him talking, too.
Sandra Boynton’s expected silliness comes into play when mom is questioning Pookie. After Pookie answers
"no" to all the standard questions, like “Are you cold?” and “Are you hungry?”, his mom veers off into more unusual queries. “Did a very large hippo try to borrow your shoes?” “Are there five lazy frogs in your bed for a snooze?” Mom’s strategy works. Her playful questions alleviate Pookie’s sadness enough that he can finally tell his mom the truth.
Pookie and his mom are simply drawn, incredibly likable pigs. Boynton uses body language and facial expressions to create
her innocent-looking characters. All the characters in this story, including a large gray hippo with the tiny feet and a chocolate chip cookie-loving winged elephant, are drawn to look guiltless and harmless. Body positioning
is also used to good effect with Pookie and his mom. On the first page, Pookie
sits with his back turned toward his mother, but page by page, question by question, Pookie turns towards
Mom and closes the distance between them until he is so close she can lift him up and hold him in her arms.
The light yellows, greens and blues used as background colors for this story bring calmness to Pookie’s troubles. They also have a soothing effect that mirrors the comfort provided by Pookie’s mom. Two different typefaces
are used throughout: Mom’s questions are in a large black typeface, and Pookie’s answers are in a small red typeface. This visual distinction makes the story easy to follow and read a loud.
Hippos Go Berserk was the first of many books by Sandra Boynton. Before devoting herself to writing and illustrating
children's books, she designed greeting cards. Her rhythmic writing style and cartoon animal illustrations have drawn fans from all age groups. What's Wrong, Little Pookie? has
not only the cute animals and the rhyming text but also a great idea for ending grumpy days.
Sandra Boynton’s books have always made me giggle. If you have her collection, add this one.
If you don’t, start one today. Children love these books!