Winston Winks
by Megan Cline

"'My eyelids were in the way! I was practicing winking.' He kept rubbing his head. 'Mom, I need to tell you something. Winking hurts.'"

Winston is a young wombat with a plan. Every time he goes to see his grandfather, he receives a piece of candy and a friendly wink. Determined to give his grandpa a pleasant surprise, Winston decides to learn how to wink; but every time he tries, he ends up blinking instead. Winston’s mother learns of his plan when she hears a thumping sound and then her son crying. Asking him what’s wrong while icing down his bruised head, Winston reveals his plan, telling her that when he tried to wink, he ended up shutting his eyes and bumping into the wall. Winston’s mother advises him to be patient and to keep practicing, but Winston wants to see immediate results and show his grandpa as soon as possible. This provides Winston’s mother with a chance to share a valuable lesson as well as tell him about the times he can’t remember when he was just a baby.

At first, Winston doesn’t believe that he ever needed to learn how to walk, run, or even speak, but his mother insists that she was there and that she remembers very well how much practice he had to do to get to his current ability. Getting the bigger picture, Winston begins to realize that even if he can’t wink now, it’s okay as long as he keeps working toward his goal. With a visit to his grandpa coming later that day, Winston is ready to show his grandpa what he can do now, even if it’s not what he had hoped to be able to do.

With warm, cute, and cartoony illustrations on nearly every page and big, bold letters, this is a story perfect for sharing from parent to child and opening up a discussion about a child’s early years. The moral and message of the story are perfect for kids during their development, whether they’re trying to wink, whistle, ride a bike, or no matter what they’re trying to accomplish at that moment. Winston’s mother never chides Winston for trying to do too much or grow up too fast; she just offers him some advice and perspective to make sense of his frustration.

The writing does a great job of helping kids temper their expectations without extinguishing their enthusiasm or wants, and Winston’s character reflects a never-give-up attitude that conveys well to the reader. All of the book’s illustrations of Winston and his family do a fantastic job of conveying the characters and the supportive environment that Winston lives in. The wombats may not be animals that children are directly familiar with, but they still come off as cute and friendly. In terms of book-length, use of pictures, vocabulary, and opportunity to voice dialogue, this story is ideally structured for reading aloud to children. One can hope to see more adventures from Winston as he is impossible not to like with his determination and focus. Children who read this book will likely pick up on Winston’s curiosity, energy, and desire to try new things or learn skills that they want to accomplish.

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