cover image Willy the Wizard

Willy the Wizard

Anthony Browne. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-679-87644-1

Browne's (Willy the Wimp) fourth book featuring his ingenuous, remarkably human chimp mingles soccer and magic, two topics of indisputable appeal to kids. In wry, splendidly detailed pictures and a characteristically assured narrative, the author/artist relays the story of Willy's soccer breakthrough. Since he can't afford to buy soccer ""boots,"" the chimp is ignored by the other players (shown here as gorillas). Then he encounters an ethereal yet curiously familiar figure dressed in old-fashioned soccer clothes, ``like the clothes Willy remembered his dad wearing.'' The two kick around a soccer ball, and the stranger unlaces his cleats and passes them to Willy. At the next practice, the shoes transform Willy into a star. But when Willy forgets to bring his special shoes to the big game and has to wear another pair, he nevertheless plays like a ""wizard,"" stunning the opposition and scoring the winning goal. With admirable subtlety, Browne delivers a beneficial message to all youngsters-soccer-playing or not. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)