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SILLY BILLY by Anthony Browne


by Anthony Browne & illustrated by Anthony Browne

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7636-3124-8
Publisher: Candlewick

Very few artists understand a child’s anxieties as deeply—or represent them so thoroughly—as Browne. Here, he presents Billy, who worries about “many things”: hats, shoes, clouds, rain and giant birds, until his grandmother gives him some Guatemalan worry dolls to do the work for him. All is well for a few nights, but then he starts to worry about the dolls’ worries—so he makes more dolls for all of them. This master of surrealism pictures Billy against his trademark wallpaper (which changes subtly with each separate worry) in mono-tinted compositions that trap him in bed, at the mercy of his fears. The highly saturated colors of Guatemalan weaving surround these disturbing images, insulating readers from their full impact and anticipating the eventual relief. Billy himself is human (though he wears a familiar vest), his round face and big ears only vaguely chimp-like; the adults in his life are reassuringly soft and bulky. It’s a sweet acknowledgement that all kids have fears that plague them, and puts a wonderfully childlike solution at their disposal. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)