Parents' Guide to

Whistle for Willie

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 3+

In charming classic, a boy learns to whistle for his pup.

Whistle for Willie Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 1 parent review

age 7+

Dr Seuss

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

They don't make kids' books any better than this Ezra Jack Keats' classic that celebrates childhood and play, and continues to charm new generations of readers. When Whistle for Willie was first published in 1964, few books featured African-American characters. Keats himself was born to struggling immigrant white Jewish parents, grew up poor in tenement Brooklyn, and is able to peer through Peter's eyes to show us an urban neighborhood full of found wonder. A curious cat peers out a barbershop window. Two girls -- one black, one white -- share a jump rope. Graffiti's pictured as stenciled stars, arrows, numbers, and letters spelling out the simple words "cat" and "me." If play's the work of the child, Peter's an expert, spinning till he's dizzy, hiding in boxes from his dog, and drawing a chalk line everywhere he walks. There's also touching sweetness when he tries on his dad's hat and pretends to be his dad while his mom plays along.

Keats' art was also innovative, using colorful mixed-media collage with patterned, marbled, and textured papers. When Peter triumphantly shows his parents he can whistle, Keats fills the page with Peter's proud, joyful face. Young readers will see themselves in this playful and persistent protagonist, and enjoy this timeless story.

Book Details

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