Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Booky Advent Calendar Day 13: "Willy and the Cloud" by Anthony Browne (Walker Books)

We're mixing a selection of Christmassy and non-Christmassy books for this year's Booky Advent Calendar (mostly because it's a bit of a case of slim pickings trying to find great festive books for middle graders).

Nevertheless we'd still recommend any of our December book reviews as stocking fillers - including this utterly gorgeous new book from an Author-artist who really formed a huge part of Charlotte's early reading journey.

We've reviewed countless Anthony Browne books on the blog and we never tire of his amazingly detailed illustrations, cleverly observed themes and glorious characters.

Willy the Chimpanzee has been the star of many books and in the latest adventure, Willy wants to go out for a stroll and a picnic in the park.

Strangely, as Willy steps out of his front door, the sun is shining everywhere and there's not a cloud in the sky - that is until Willy continues his journey and realises he's being followed. Followed by a cloud.

It hangs over his head, and follows him all the way to the park. Poor Willy must sit in the shivering shade while his Gorilla chums are all excitedly soaking up the sun.

Willy even tries to report the cloud to the police as it follows him home. I'm sure you can imagine how well received that was!

Poor Willy, what is he to do? Well there's only one thing for it - Sing and Dance in the rain!

Anthony Browne is gently alluding to many things in this story. At times it feels like he's writing about anxiety and depression, and Willy's expressions when the cloud is really dogging him reflect that perfectly.

Best of all is the moment when Willy finally realises what he needs to do - and takes those first faltering steps back out of the house. Those are beautiful book moments where you are left in no doubt that Anthony Browne is a master of his trade.

Hooray for Willy and hooray for books that are as touchingly brilliant and beautiful as this.

Charlotte's best bit: Expertly spotting influences of Matisse, Mondrian and William Morris in Willy's friends' clothing (I taught her well, it seems!)

Daddy's favourite bit: A gentle and delicately handled book about depression and anxiety, exquisitely detailed and beautifully told. We always expect brilliance from Anthony and we've never been disappointed yet!

(Kindly supplied for review)

"Willy and the Cloud" by Anthony Browne is out now, published by Walker Books.