Whistle for Willie

Common Sense Media says

Book celebrates a child's ingenuity.





What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this vivid book provides a colorful perspective of an urban landscape.

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What's the story?

Oh, how Peter wished he could whistle! Fiercely billowing out his cheeks to no avail, Peter endeavors to whistle for his dog, Willie. Keats's bright collages artfully convey a child's delight in the simple pleasures, as Peter whiles away his afternoon diligently practicing and playing impromptu games.

Is it any good?


In WHISTLE FOR WILLIE, Ezra Jack Keats celebrates a child's ingenuity and remarkable ability to turn a mundane object or situation into a game. Although this book was written more than 30 years ago, the simple activities that enchant Peter are still enjoyed by children today. Keats' extraordinary mixed-media collages, consisting in part of paintings and cut paper, create an almost three-dimensional feel to the pages.

In many instances the fanciful pictures expand on the simply worded text. For example, after spinning around, Peter attempts to regain his equilibrium. The accompanying illustration features a heaving, arching sidewalk with Peter and a traffic-light post tilting forward and then backward. The small but telling detail of the colored lights floating away from the post perfectly conveys that exhilarating, topsy-turvy feeling one gets after a dizzying spin.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about learning to whistle. Can you whistle? Can everyone learn how to do it?

Book details

Author:Ezra Jack Keats
Illustrator:Ezra Jack Keats
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:September 4, 1964
Number of pages:34
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7

This review of Whistle for Willie was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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