Cover image for Willy's pictures
Willy's pictures
Browne, Anthony, 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick, 2000.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 31 cm
Willy the chimp paints pictures that are tributes to art masterpieces.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.0 0.5 45228.
Format :


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PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Willy the chimp paints pictures that are tributes to art masterpieces, including American Gothic, The Birth of Venus, and Mona Lisa.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-8. Browne, the 2000 Hans Christian Andersen Award Winner for Illustration, often plays with images in famous paintings to show the surreal in a child's daily life. In this picture book for older children, he creates mischief with artistry and meticulous technique as he alters masterpiece paintings and finds a new story in each one. His chimpanzee persona Willy is artist, narrator, and actor in each frame. All the characters in the pictures are apes: the hilarious Birthday Suit (a takeoff on Botticelli's The Birth of Venus) pictures Venus as a gorilla in shower cap covering herself up. Edward Hopper's empty street is filled with Willy's fantasy of power over the grown-ups. Young children will enjoy the pictures for the stories they tell, but it will take an older audience familiar with the paintings to really appreciate Browne's wild versions. It's a pity that the gatefold on which Browne talks seriously about the famous pictures and their stories is not included in the library edition. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Glimpsed imagining himself as a painter in Willy the Dreamer, Browne's versatile chimp now takes up the palette in perhaps his most intriguing outing yet. Willy presents his versions of 16-plus familiar masterpieces, working his own imageDand a sophisticated, quirky humorDinto each. Refashioning Winslow Homer's rather somber The Herring Net as "The Fruitful Fishing Trip," for instance, Willy adds splashes of color by changing the fishermen's catch to bananas; alongside the boat floats a pig, its neck encircled with this fruit. Pieter Brueghel the Elder's The Tower of Babel here becomes a sandcastle, with an overlaid image of Willy cast as the subject from William Blake's Glad Day. Observant readers will pick up on several recurring motifs, as well as elements from additional paintings: the desolate streetscape in Edward Hopper's Early Sunday Morning is brightened by flowers in a window (a diminutive reproduction of Vincent van Gogh's Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers), his friend Millie appears in another window, and Willy walks his "dog" (Buster Nose the gorilla on all fours) past a barber-shop pole in the multicolored pattern of the chimp's signature vest. On the penultimate spread, Browne sheds his mask to take readers on "a tour of the pictures that inspired Willy." A minor caveat: some of the reproductions of the original paintings in a concluding gatefold index are too small for youngsters to fully appreciate the contrast between the masters' and Willy's works. Regardless, "Willy's" enlightening captions beneath the original masterworks and a complete list of where the paintings can be viewed make this one-volume minimuseum well worth a visit. Ages 4-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3 Up-Less a story than a gallery of the illustrator's imagination, this title features paintings by the familiar chimp featured in several of Browne's earlier picture books. Mounted on white sheets of paper that give the appearance of having just been torn from a sketchbook, each of Willy's creations harkens back to at least one famous painting and sometimes elements from more than one renowned artist, all integrated into a single frame. Simian characters frequently pose in the stances that humans occupied in the original masterpieces. Other humorous details and alterations add whimsy to many of the paintings. The text primarily functions as captions to each piece of artwork. At the back of the book, readers are invited to tour miniature versions of the works that inspired Willy, such as Buonarroti's The Creation of Adam, da Vinci's Mona Lisa, and Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, accompanied by the chimp's creative comments. Some of the shortcomings of the book include the randomness of the paintings chosen, the fact that the reduced originals are too small for children to appreciate in detail, and that the artistic references and humor really have more adult than child appeal. There are many more successful introductions to art history available.-Rosalyn Pierini, San Luis Obispo City-County Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.