Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Walliwigs is a gawky young parrot with a story of Dickensian proportions. He loses his real mother when his nest, ensconced in a ship's funnel, sails away without her. He gets handed down through a series of caretakers who are more concerned with how he might taste than with his value as a pet. At long last he finds a home with Martha the chicken, who offers him unqualified maternal adoration and tirelessly defends Walliwigs against the other chickens' disdain. Then one day, an ornithologist takes the parrot against his will and deems Walliwigs not only special, but endangered (the fellow writes home explaining that he's a "probosciger aterrimus [or] Great Black Cockatoo). Martha's love for her offbeat adoptive son is vindicated, and at the conclusion, she dreams of "something wonderful to wear" to Walliwig's impending nuptials. Rankin's (Wow! It's Great Being a Duck) watercolors are delicious comic confections that come to the convoluted story's rescue. Martha is an especially inspired creation--she's an overstuffed pillow of a bird, a literal as well as figurative bulwark against a cruel world. While the narrative focus feels fuzzy, Rankin's pictures and overall message are endearing and uplifting. Ages 4-8. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Emily Schuster
When Walliwigs, a Great Black Cockatoo, is adopted by a hen named Martha, it seems he will never fit in. Taunted by the other hens as "scrawny" and "ugly," Walliwigs begins to feel lonely, despite his adopted mom's love and reassurance that he is "special." One day, an ornithologist named Professor Beak recognizes Walliwigs' status as "almost an endangered species" and the hens realize that he really is somebody special. Although the ugly duckling story line is almost too familiar, the book's humor and lively illustrations give it charm and character.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Shortly after "a somewhat foolish parrot" leaves her nest "on top of a ship's funnel" for a "little fly-about," her unlucky baby begins his lonely journey across "the big, blue sea." As time passes, Walliwigs's stomach indicates that lunch is long overdue, and his pitiful squawking draws the notice of the ship's captain. Too small to be of use in a pineapple-parrot pie and too much of a bother as a pet, the bird is deposited at the next port with a crew member's aunt. Not quite sure what to do with him, she adds Walliwigs to her chicken coop, where he is immediately and enthusiastically adopted by a doting hen named Martha. The newcomer suffers from the stares and comments of conventional chickens, and even Martha's unconditional love can't protect him completely. Finally, a fully grown Walliwigs is discovered by Professor Beak, who whisks him off to the Institute of Ornithology. Here, his true identity as a Great Black Cockatoo is established, and heartbroken Martha is comforted by the fact that she will become a mother-in-law once a suitable bride is found for her special boy. This silly tale of motherly love and social acceptance is told with just enough poignancy to make children understand Walliwigs's dilemma. Rankin's whimsical, detailed watercolor illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to a tongue-in-cheek, modern takeoff on "The Ugly Duckling" theme. Not a must-have, but certainly worth considering.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
A rare Great Black Cockatoo is stranded as a fledgling aboard a steamship that has been his home since birth in this funny outing from Rankin (Wow! It's Great Being a Duck, 1998, etc.). Left alone one morning, Walliwigs becomes aware that the steamship is leaving the harbor and therefore his mother, behind. He's discovered by a cabin boy and taken to a farm owned by the boy's aunt. Life in the chicken house is made bearable only with the help of Martha, a hen who loves him as her own. She recognizes his indomitable spirit and cherishes his uniqueness, warding off insensitive comments from other hens in the coop. When Professor Beak, a traveling ornithologist, takes delight in Walliwigs, the results are thrillinghe's a rare, practically extinct bird. Borrowing on the theme from the tale of the Ugly Duckling, Rankin shows again that being different is something rare and wonderful, not a thing to be feared. Her lively watercolor art captures the cockiness of audacious chickens who feel superior without reasonable justification. Children, often bullied, more often misunderstood, will find their spirits lifted by this encounter with Walliwigs. (Picture book. 4-8)