WHOOPS!, A Spellbinding Read-Aloud

I occasionally teach a workshop on “Writing the Rollicking Read-Aloud,” so I’m always on the lookout for books to add to my resource list.

I’m happy to share with you the latest addition to that list : WHOOPS! by Suzi Moore and illustrated by Russell Ayto (Templar/Candlewick, 2016).

It starts with a problem: a cat, a dog and a mouse who are speechless. Literally.

Luckily, they get some advice from a wise old owl:

“Find the old lady in the tumbledown house,”
said the owl to the cat and the dog and the mouse.
“She’ll have a spell
to make you all well.”

So they do. And she does.

But is it the right spell?

She went to look at her big spell book.
she cast a spell, and the whole house shook.

The wind blew in,
and the rain came down.
Then the tumbledown house
turned around and around.

That’s where the WHOOPS! comes in. The animals can now speak, but there’s a bit of a problem:  The cat clucks. The dog quacks. The mouse cock-a-doodle-doos.

So the little old lady tries again. (WHOOPS!)

And again. (WHOOPS!)

And again. (Yup.)

Each time the old woman’s spell gets more dramatic, until finally:

She went to look
at her big spell book.
She cast a spell,
and the whole house shook.

There was a sparkle

and a crackle
and a thundering sound.
There was a FLASH!
and a CRASH!
and a rumbling sound.

There was a BANG!
and a CLANG!
Then the sky turned brown.

The wind blew in
and the rain came down.
Then the tumbledown house
turned around and around.

Wow, that’s some powerful magic! Did it work?

Well . . . sorta. But no spoilers here. You’re just going to have to get your hands on a copy.

So why do I love this as a read-aloud?

  1. Engaging story.  There’s a problem to be solved and plenty of suspense along the way (underscored by the masterful use of page turns).
  2. Musical rhyme. The meter is not entirely consistent, but somehow it works for this story.
  3. Repetition. Several lines—and the WHOOPS!—are repeated throughout, allowing kids to pick up on the pattern and join in.
  4. Lively language. The story is packed with sound effects, animal noises, and all sorts of fun-to-say words.
  5. Wacky humor, with a classic “Ha!” ending.
  6. Appealing art. Color-drenched pages, lots of action, a few explosions, and a charming cast of wry, big-eyed animals (and one eccentric witch).

Read any great read-alouds lately? I’d love to hear.


——– Giveaway Winners ————-

The winners of last month’s giveaway are Rebecca Levington and Midge Ballou Smith. Each will receive a copy of Ella WHO? and the RAIN! board book. Thanks for all the comments!



Linda Ashman

Linda Ashman is the author of more than 45 picture books, as well as The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books, a how-to guide for picture book writers. Her books have been included on the ‘best of the year’ lists of The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, the American Library Association, the Children’s Book Council, and The New York Public Library, among others, and have been translated into many languages.


  1. This looks like fun! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks, Linda!

  2. Judy Slowey-sly

    I love your book selection. The musical feel makes for fun reading.

  3. Kim Pfennigwerth

    Just shared this on twitter. I love the sound of this story!

  4. Patricia Nozell

    This looks like such a fun read-aloud. Can’t believe I haven’t seen this featured anywhere yet. Thanks for sharing.

  5. This sounds like SUCH a fun story to read! I think kids will love it. I know I’M looking forward to reading it!

  6. Thanks for the post! The words and the images are enticing.

  7. Adorable and hilarious – illustrations are perfect, too! I am going to read this ASAP.

  8. So fun! I am putting that one on my list. Thanks for the post.

  9. This one looks like a sure winner! Thanks for sharing. I’ll be looking for it!

  10. Sounds perfect for a spring-storm toddler storytime!

  11. Oh, too fun! Must get this one. 🙂

  12. Great selection. It’s going on my “to read” list! Thanks!

  13. Nice!! Thanks for the post. ♡

  14. Debra K Shumaker

    This sounds like so much fun! Just requested it from my library!

  15. Thanks, Linda! I’m requesting this one now! One of my favorite 2017 rhymers is SPUNKY LITTLE MONKEY by Michael Sampson and Bill Martin, Jr., illustrated by Brian Won. The rhythm is irresistible.

  16. This looks like a fun read–will check it out. Thank you!

  17. Adding to my to-read list now!

  18. I would have a ball reading this book to preschoolers and first graders. Thanks for the post!

  19. I’ll go look for this and the SPUNKY LITTLE MONKEY that Sue mentioned above. Fun!

  20. Thanks, Linda! This looks like a “must have!”

  21. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for the heads up!

  22. This looks like such a clever and fun book. Thanks for your explanation of why it works so well as a read-aloud. I can’t wit to read it aloud to some little friends.

  23. This looks like a good one! Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  24. Kevan Atteberry

    Oh yeah! this looks great! Will check it out.

  25. Kathy Mazurowski

    Whoops! sounds like a lot of fun to read. I’ll be looking for it.

  26. Wow! This book sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  27. I already know we’re going to love this book. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks so much!

  28. This sounds like a wonderful read-aloud! I can’t wait to try it out.

  29. What a kick! A fun rhymer, and I love those blank black speech bubbles. Thanks for book introduction.

  30. LeeAnn Rizzuti

    Whoops! is a read aloud favorite of mine, too. A couple of other fun read alouds at my house in the past few months were I Am Not a Chair by Ross Burach (2017) and I Am Trying to Love Spiders (2015) by Bethany Barton.

  31. Oh, I love this book! Thanks for your great post and pointing out what makes this book so fun!

  32. Cassie Bentley

    Perfect rhyme and rhythm. I love it. I cannot wait to check it out.

  33. This sounds fantastic! I’m going to find this and read it to my kinder class!

  34. Yay! My library has several copies so I put one on hold. Can’t wait to read it.

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