Howard B. Wigglebottom On Yes or No: A Fable About Trust

Howard Binkow and Reverend Ana
Thunderbolt Publishing (2013) 
ISBN 9780982616581
Reviewed by Dee Smith and toddler grandson for Reader Views (12/13)

In reading the first page of “Howard B. Wigglebottom On Yes or No: A Fable About Trust” by Howard Binkow and Reverend Ana, I got very excited to hear about Howard B. Wigglebottom who appears to be a very curious about everything from how things worked and how things are made, etc. Even the first page of illustration shows a very cute bunny sitting in the floor holding an airplane with a broken wing, a broken clock and other broken toys. I’m thinking this is going to be a great book for my 27-month-old grandson who has recently started asking questions such as “How?, Why?, What is that?” However to my surprise after turning to the very next page, the book took a different storyline.

The story plot quickly became about animal characters who try to get the bunny’s friend (a skunk named Buzz) into trouble or tricking him out of something of his they wanted or even to the point of trying to get him into trouble by stealing. The book then took on a new plot talking about how sometimes TV commercials lie about their products, then once again the plot took a new turn and talked about how not to take rides in cars from strangers.

While I think the authors may have had some good ideas of teaching children about when to say no and when to say yes to certain people and/or in certain situations, the book seemed to be all over the map jumping from one idea to another with no real flow or transition.

I must say I was very bothered by a couple of statements made on these pages:  Page 22 “Say NO to anyone who has wronged and hurt you before.”  Really? What if that person did not know they had wronged or hurt you?  Page 24 “WAIT TO SAY YES to new friends until they have shown you a few times they are nice and don’t lie or get you in trouble.” Really? Not sure I agree that you should not give others a chance to be your friend without them first proving themselves. What happened to being able to trust other children and showing them kindness until they become untrustworthy?  

While I think the authors may have had some good ideas for a book about safety with strangers and being careful to not let friends talk you into doing or saying wrong things, this book appeared to be more about being suspicious and paranoid of everyone until there was proof of good behaviors.

On a more positive note, I did enjoy the back pages after the story which had suggestions for lessons and reflections.  I think “Howard B. Wigglebottom On Yes or No: A Fable About Trust” by Howard Binkow and Reverend Ana is a great tool for teachers after read time to be able to have a Q&A with students. I also thought it was pretty cool that an author wrote a personal note and included a signature on the inside cover.


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