The latest installment of the Willy the Chimp series is an emotional roller coaster.
Browne continues Willy’s adventures in his familiar artistic style, depicting apes dressed in human clothes in detailed, mixed-media paintings. Dapper protagonist Willy plans an outing in the park. He is clothed in a patterned, multicolor vest, green corduroy trousers, and brown oxfords as he cheerfully strolls across the mostly white page. Alas, a cloud is following him. He can’t seem to shake it. Although everyone else at the park is having “great fun,” he—and he alone—is shadowed by this cloud, which hovers directly over his head. Now glum, Willy gives up and goes home, trailed by the cloud. Browne uses palette and composition to convey mood, isolating Willy uncomfortably beneath the cloud and muting colors. The cloud seems to go away and his mood lifts, but it returns, and now Willy is angry—so angry that he yells and shakes his hand at the murky stormy sky: “I’ve had enough!…Go away!” At that moment, the cloud bursts, leaving Willy so relieved and happy that he strikes a pose reminiscent of Gene Kelly in the film Singin’ in the Rain. The theme is conveyed in a way that is developmentally pitch-perfect for young readers who often have big feelings that no one can just fix.
Browne deftly shows that emotions can arrive suddenly and, more importantly, leave again without any reason why. (Picture book. 3-7)