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Silly Billy


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About the Author

Anthony Browne is one of the most popular and stylistically distinctive children's book artists, with a number of outstanding titles to his credit, including Gorilla (9780744594393), My Dad and Into the Forest (9781844285594). In 2000, he won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award (for Illustration) for his services to children's literature. He lives in Kent.


Browne (Willy the Champ) here offers another satisfyingly wry take on the trials of childhood. At the tale's center is chronic worrier Billy, whose oversize ears, middle part and festive sweater call to mind Browne's popular chimp, Willy. Billy's nighttime worries emerge in monochromatic framed images with humorous surrealistic flair. As he worries about hats, chapeaux of various styles hover over his bed; when he worries about shoes, a parade of pairs of shoes exits out the window; and water falls from the ceiling and surrounds his bed when he worries about rain. His parents try unsuccessfully to calm Billy's fears. But when his worries keep him awake at his grandma's house (Browne indicates the boy's growing anxiety with a portrait of the boy in bed, dominated by light blue and sepia tones and patterned wallpaper that suggests Rorschach shapes), she comes up with a solution. The wise woman gives him six tiny worry dolls that will "do all the worrying for you while you sleep." This works like a charm until the earnest lad starts worrying about the worry dolls. The hero inventively solves this problem, and the author wraps up with a note on the significance of worry dolls, which originated in Guatemala. The festive rainbow hues of the dolls' clothing effectively contrast with the somber shades of the art depicting the boy's worries. An entertaining, comforting bedtime read-aloud. Ages 4-7. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

A perfect book for a child who worries. * THE Book Magazine *
Just right as a soothing companion for any child at bedtime. * The Independent *
Anthony Browne's meticulous pictures intrigue the eye and set the imagination spinning. * Child Education PLUS *

PreS-Gr 2-In bed at night Billy frets about everything, from standard clothing items (shoes) to normal weather phenomena (clouds). His parents do their best to reassure him, but to no avail. Staying over at Grandma's, he is overwhelmed with anxiety until she gives him Guatemalan worry dolls, the perfect antidote for night terrors. This works until he starts to worry that he's overburdening the dolls. The boy's clever way of resolving the problem is sure to bring smiles to readers. The story is bookended by illustrations of Billy, first literally weighed down with apprehension, and finally full of optimistic self-confidence. An opening full-color illustration in watercolor and pencil depicts Billy lying stiffly in his bed. This is followed by a series of his monochromatic fright-filled imaginings layered with background details that add levels of interest for close observers (his pillow reveals a worried profile while his wallpaper is covered with shoe prints). The bright colors of Guatemalan yarns and patterns are echoed throughout. Billy's parents and grandmother are rounded, comforting figures, but in almost every spread it is the boy's small, pale face, pinched with worry, that is given the most visual weight and holds readers' attention. Children will appreciate that Billy's problems are solved both through the efforts of encouraging adults and through his own resourcefulness. A witty way to address the issue of ever-present childhood presentiments.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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