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The Picture Book Buzz

The Twist-A-Roo - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I loved playing with a kaleidoscope as a kid and still own a beautiful wooden one. That was one of the reasons I loved this book. The fractal images and the way they mesmerize are gorgeously captured in the magical evening illustrations. And I love the way little bits of facts are interwoven into this fun and encouraging fable re-telling. It's a perfect picture book as we head into the dark days of winter.

Book cover - badger walking in woods looking through a kaleidoscope

The Twist-A-Roo

Author: Kathleen Doherty

Illustrator: Kristyna Litten

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers/Penguin Random House (2023)

Ages: 4-8



Fables, kaleidoscope, friends, community, and responsibility.


A modern spin on “The Ant and the Grasshopper,” this warm-spirited, woodland tale celebrates the power of community and coming together to share in times of need.

Winter is fast approaching the forest and everyone is storing food for a long hibernation, except Badger who is determined to find something fun to play with during the cold months ahead. After poking around in people town, Badger finds a Twist-a-Roo. It makes flashy shapes, splashy shapes, and shapes that slide and slip! It’s perfect for brightening Badger’s den with lots of color. But when the snow starts piling on deeper and deeper, Badger’s cupboards go bare! All that razzle dazzle can’t fill her belly. Then…knockity-knock. Someone’s at the door!

From the creators of The Thingity-Jig, this cozy, cuddle-up tale from Kathy Doherty is lovingly illustrated by Kristyna Litten with enchanting details for little ones to discover.

Opening Lines:

One star-studded night, Badger sniffed

the air. It smelled like crushed leaves

with a splash of acorn. A delightful night to


What I Loved about this book:

Badger is such an interesting character. Determined not to endure another "dull, dark winter," she heads - Mary Poppins style - into "people town" to find something to dazzle up her sett. I love that Kathleen Doherty and Kristyna Litten have interwoven fun informational aspects of badgers - nocturnal, scavaegers, and name of its den - into the fable. Adding a fun educational aspect to the book.

After playing with a yo-yo, badger discovers a Twist-a-Roo, " a turny, twisty, tantalizing thing," which produces the most amazing flashy shapes and patterns. Isn't that such a great, child-like name for a kaleidoscope?

Internal spread - on left, Badger aiming a kaleidoscope through a fountain toward the moon. On right, vingettes of badger rushing home and then trying to share his twist-a-roo with Porcupine.

Text © Kathleen Doherty, 2023. Image © Kristyna Litten, 2023.

Based on The Ant and the Grasshopper fable, Badger excitedly takes the enticing and engrossing twist-a-roo to each of her friends in turn. But porcupine is more interested in eating to prepare for winter and Beaver is too busy winterizing her lodge. However, when Badger shined a light through the twist-a-roo, all thoughts of fattening up on apples and gathering leaves and grasses for her sett, drifted from her mind. Badger tries once again to interest Porcupine or Beaver in her fantastic new find. But they insist she should be preparing for winter, instead of "frittering about."

Ignoring the shabbiness of her sett and low larder, Badger is mesmerized by the dazzling shapes. Determined to find a way to share the joy with her friends, she sets about making gifts. As a story set during the night, I really like how Kristyna Litten uses the shades of teal, with fun spots/highlights of yellow light and splashes of pink, in the illustrations.

Internal spread - on left, badger sitting on stairs in sett with no winter preparation. On right, Badger's lounging around looking through kaleidoscope and then making presents for friends.

Text © Kathleen Doherty, 2023. Image © Kristyna Litten, 2023.

Unfortunately, winter arrived as she worked on the gifts. Having not prepared her sett or gathered any food, Badger was soon cold, hungry, and miserable.

Internal spead - on left, Badger shivering as snow and wind leak into his sett. On right, vignettes of Badger growing hungrier and this sett emptier.

Text © Kathleen Doherty, 2023. Image © Kristyna Litten, 2023.

While the original tale often left the grasshopper alone and in the cold, this tweaking of the fable ends with Badger and her friends learning that both were right and a fabulous, vertical double-page spread. It's a gorgeous celebration of friendship, community, and working together for the greater good.


Photo of upcycled DIY Kaleidoscope.
  • make your own kaleidoscope (or Twist-A-Roo);

  • check out the book's activity kit;

  • what do you like to do on cold winter days? Do you have a favorite drink, sweater, or activity? Is there something you like to do as a family? Draw a picture of write a story of a fun winter day; and

  • pair this with some other wonderful winter friendship books - Got to Get to Bear's! by Brian Lies, Cozy by Jan Brett; and Share Some Kindness, Bring Some Light by Apryl Stott.

If you missed the interview with Kathleen Doherty on Monday, find it (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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