The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles was, and actually still is, one of my favorite books. Julie Edwards, the author of another childhood favorite Mandy, gave life to this wonderful tale and I treasure it dearly.
Full of color and vivaciousness, this baby novel was one of my first full length books. Three children and a wacky, wildcard professor discover four magic hats that show them the way into Whangdoodleland– the place where the world’s most fanciful creatures went to live after humanity stopped believing in them. The four have the most brilliant adventures on their quest to meet the greatest “imaginary” creature of all time, the Whangdoodle.
The very last of his kind, as the title of the novel tells, the Whangdoodle has the head of a moose, the body of a deer, and the ability to change into any color or pattern. Camouflage on steroids, one might say. Oh, did I mention the Whangdoodle grows slippers on his back hooves? Lovely soft things with bells and tassels in the most luxurious silk you’ve ever felt. He is also known for his devilish sweet tooth. It’s there in the back of his mouth; he can point it out to you with his tongue. It’s the one with the daisy.
Along the way to meet the dear Whangdoodle, I fell in love with the world he created for his imaginary fellows: the tiny Tree Squeaks, stampeding Sidewinders, a curious High-Behind Splintercat, and even the Oily Prock. Now the Oily Prock is a right nasty bloke but I can’t help but feel a tickle in my heart for him. My favorite character is the old Whiffle Bird. The size of an eagle, she never speaks but for rhymed shrieking verse, and yet she shines the brightest. Her tiny beaded eyes and cacophony of colored feathers alone are a psychological tell-all. She is a true gem, that bird.
Such glorious characters, major and minor alike. The children, the professor, and especially the really great Whangdoodle himself were all terrific companions for a childhood adventure. This tale was my first footstep into the realm of “big-girl books.” When I was small, I used to put on a bonnet and stare so very hard at a wall, hoping the door to Whangdoodleland would appear. Sometimes it did, but those were just unusually imaginative hours spent in a sunny playroom. And yet, to this day, I want to go aboard The Jolly Roger and have a go at the Whangdoodle’s ice cream parlor machine.
“One Whiffle Bird Delight, please.”
— From a Class Assignment “Review a Favorite Book from Childhood”