Title: Willy the Champ
Author: Anthony Browne
Illustrator: Anthony Browne
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Children’s picture book
Book format: Paperback
Sweet Strawberries: Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description: Willy is different. He likes to read books and listen to music; he’s no good at sports, although he tries; and wherever he goes he gets laughed at. But when he’s threatened by the horrible Buster Nose he really comes into his own.

*Free copy provided (as part of the ‘Anthony Browne Collection’) by publisher for review…

Review:  I’m not sure what to think of this book. I’m wasn’t a massive fan of the Willy the Chimp books when I first read them although I’ve come to enjoy quite a few of them. ‘Willy the Champ’ is a story which seems a bit similar to ‘Willy the Wimp’. The paperback is quite small, around A4 in it’s width (if you hold an A4 sized paper upright) although shorter than A4 in height. It’s filled with thick and glossy pages which themselves have lots of very colourful images.

Willy the Champ book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

The story starts by showing us what Willy likes to do: listen to music, read and visit the park with his friend Millie. But Willy isn’t really good at anything that the gorillas are good at. He tries to be sporty, like them, and do what they are good at such as bike racing and football but Willy isn’t like the others. Plenty of kids could easily relate to Willy’s character in this book, I certainly wasn’t the sporty type at school and I can instantly recognise that feeling of not being good at anything the other kids are good at. The story is very short and it seems like Willy won’t be good at anything until he faces a bully called Buster Nose.

The way Willy deals with Buster Nose is funny and it’s an okay ending to the book, but this just didn’t seem as good a story as the other Willy the Chimp books I’ve read. Any message of standing up to a bully and managing to overcome them in this way seems to be lost a little in this tale and I’m not sure a lot of kids would understand any message the book has, instead enjoying the basic story and pictures more.

I like the illustrations. There are funny and many of the pages have a surreal feel to them such as a gorilla in the park taking a banana for a walk! I do like all the pictures though the way that some of the gorillas look in the pool or Buster Nose himself are a bit strange. The book was originally printed in the 80s though and some of the strange outfits of the gorillas in the books might be due to that.

Willy the Champ book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

Although I like the illustrations, I just didn’t like this story as much as the other Willy books I’ve read and I’m not sure all kids would enjoy this book.

Review first appeared online November 2017 – now republished here.

What do you think of this book?  Have you read any other books by Anthony Browne?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂