Reviews of Tony Baloney
By Pam Muñoz Ryan,
Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham

Publishers Weekly:
Starred review

Ryan's (The Dreamer) exuberant story takes a fresh look at sibling dynamics from the perspective of a beleaguered macaroni penguin caught between bossy Big Sister Baloney and twin Bothersome Babies Baloney. "When it is absolutely necessary, or most of the time," Tony Baloney plays with Big Sister, who always makes him assume the minor role of kitty ("When do I get to be Boss of the World?" he asks). When he becomes exasperated with his siblings, Tony acts out, after which he and his stuffed toy, Dandelion (acting as confidante and adviser), take a time-out. Their eventual decision to apologize involves an entertaining imagined dialogue; Tony concedes that they have to apologize nicely, and Dandelion admits, "I am not feeling nicely in my heart." Dominated by bold primary colors, Fotheringham's (The Extraordinary Mark Twain [According to Susy]) hyperbolic digital illustrations counterbalance the slyly understated narrative, portraying Tony's (and Dandelion's) antics with humor. Yet there's brilliant subtlety, too: his depiction of Big Sister--always en pointe in her red ballet flats and eyeing Tony with no shortage of scorn--says a mouthful about what Tony is dealing with. Ages 3–5. (Jan.)

Kirkus Reviews:

Stuck between Big Sister and the Bothersome Babies, Tony Baloney the macaroni (penguin, that is) can't help acting out sometimes—which leads to a fast getaway into the cardboard hidey-space in his room "for maybe a year, or maybe twenty minutes" with his best stuffed buddy, Dandelion, followed by a parental admonition to apologize nicely. The tale is told in the present tense in a collegial, adult voice that leaves plenty of room for subtext: "Tony Baloney tells Dandelion all of his woes. As usual, Dandelion is extremely understanding." The versatile Fotheringham illustrates it with big cartoon scenes of stubby-beaked, shoe-wearing penguins in a comfy, cluttered domestic setting (the two binkie-sucking toddlers have particularly winning clueless looks). The episode will certainly evoke chords of recognition from middle children and their sibs (and parents) alike. So, "how long does it take for nicely to creep in?" Tony Baloney wonders; Dandelion (as superego) replies, "Maybe never, or in a little while. Just wait for it." Sage advice well worth offering, as closing scenes of realistically uneasy sibling détente demonstrate. (Picture book. 5-8)