Fans of the former Children’s Laureate (2009-11) and multi-award winning Anthony Browne will not be disappointed with this; the latest instalment of Willy’s adventures. We first met Willy in 1984 in Browne’s classic tale Willy the Wimp, and ever since we have been on several journeys with this charming and widely adored chimpanzee.
Willy’s latest escapade starts with a set of mysterious doors that open up adventures right before his very eyes. Each turn of the page allows us to meet the landscape, and sometimes the renowned characters, from an array of beloved classic stories. From Alice in Wonderland to the Wizard of Oz, Browne allows the reader to become briefly immersed in a number of different literary worlds.
The illustrations are a fine example of Browne’s artistic style. As with many of his books, and conforming to his unique yet classic illustrative style, Willy’s Stories feature gorillas and other chimpanzees throughout, which I think can add a layer of interest to the stories; why not substitute human characters with our evolutionary cousins? It very much makes for an amusing and curious reading experience.
What I find interesting about this book, is that at the end of each page Browne will ask the reader a question. Whether it’s ‘what do you think happened then?’ or ‘what would you have done?’, the reader is invited to become a part of the story itself. The fact that they are all well-known tales may well encourage readers to come up with an answer or, if they have not read it, it may in fact inspire them to read the full original story. In this way, Willy’s Stories does well to offer a fascinating reading experience , which may encourage readers to then go on to explore further stories and literary realms. Furthermore, the reader’s ability to interact with the story fuels a sense of creativity and can teach us an important lesson about the power of imagination.
Reviewed by Tiff