Willy's stories by Anthony Browne

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Walker Books, 2014. ISBN 9781406351613
(Age: All) Highly recommended. Reading, Books, Classics. Anthony Browne recreates images from ten classic tales in this delightful new publication. Each double page has Willy as the hero, placed in a desperate situation that children will adore. Those who use the clues from the picture and the text will relish the reminder of a favourite tale while others may have seen a DVD. Others still may not know the reference but I am sure those who know will share their knowledge. What a wonderful opportunity is here for teachers and parents to read aloud those books, classic tales and myths as they appear in Willy's guise.
Each double page shows a scene from a book, an incident in which Willy is at the centre, caught up in the moment, surrounded by recognisable details, characters and scenes from that book. The situations Willy is in are most exciting, with enough detail for readers to either say what happens or predict what may happen or take a different tack altogether and make up an entirely new ending for that story.
The illustrations are superb, with Willy hiding in the barrel on the deck of a ship, finding out that Long John Silver and some of the crew are planning to mutiny, or is taken up by a tornado in Kansas, or finds footprints on an island where he is shipwrecked, or climbs a tower on a rope made of hair. Each situation finds Willy in danger, and some readers will call out with excitement at the predicament he is in, helping him avoid the next step. Each illustration gives lots of clues showing what book is being presented to the reader, while books can be found hiding in various places around the page.
What an endorsement of books and reading, what a tantalising introduction to some of the classics, what fun kids will have making up the ending for each page of text or finding the partly hidden books. The uses to which this book will be put are many, encouraging engagement, imaginative responses and further reading, but above all enjoyment at the variety of books offered to readers large and small.
Fran Knight