cover image Willie Wins

Willie Wins

Almira Astudillo Gilles. Lee & Low Books, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58430-023-6

Willie gets tired of hearing his father's stories about growing up in the Philippines, and he's embarrassed by the alkansiya, a coconut-shell piggy bank, that his father has given him for a school project on saving money. Even his father's assurances that there's something very special tucked inside a treasure saved from his own childhood doesn't help. And when one of his Little League teammates, the class bully, taunts, ""That's a loser's bank,"" Willie is really worried. ""What if Dad's treasure wasn't really a treasure, but something only Dad thought was special, like the wooden water buffalo he kept on his desk?"" When the big day arrives and all the children open their banks to see who earned the most play money by doing extra schoolwork, not only does Willie come out on top and win tickets to the circus, he also finds his father's 1964 Willie Mays baseball card inside. Debut author Gilles's tale tries too hard, its didacticism showing through the storytelling. Angel's (Mga Kuwentong Bayan: Folk Stories from the Philippines) acrylic paintings attempt a sturdy realism punched up with strong brushwork and a bright palette anchored by shades of purple. His figures, however, are stiff and unnatural, problems exacerbated by the many group compositions. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)