cover image Willy’s Stories

Willy’s Stories

Anthony Browne. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7761-9

Former British Children’s Laureate Browne paints his famous chimpanzee hero Willy into 10 scenes from classic children’s literature in a bid to fire readers’ interest in them—and in the libraries where these books can be found. With text on the left-hand pages opposite one of Browne’s splendid paintings, each spread offers a plot description that ends with a cliffhanger question. Willy is seen standing in for Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and others. “I’m youth, I’m joy,” Willy-as-Peter taunts Captain Hook, reciting the boy’s famous lines. “It was all nonsense of course,” Willy continues, addressing readers, “but something very strange happened next.... What do you think it was?” In the paintings readers will discover books standing in for the rungs of ladders, walls of houses, and even seagulls. Many children will be familiar with at least some of the stories, and they will quickly learn about new ones. While less lighthearted than the winning mischief of Willy’s Pictures, Browne’s project provides a doorway into these sometimes intimidating works. Ages 5–8. (Nov.)