I'm more than a little late to the game when it comes to Anthony Browne. I wish I'd learned about him decades ago but I've at least cottoned on to his books while E is still 'of age'. My introduction to his work is mostly based on my local library and charity shop availability, however, I've enjoyed learning about his impressive body of work while researching for this post. What a national treasure he is for the Brits!
A few things you need to know about Anthony Browne: he's an internationally celebrated author/illustrator, his text is simple but injected with irony and emotion, he loves gorillas (really loves them), and E love his books. The three titles we're reading at the moment (How Do You Feel, Willy and Hugh, and Silly Billy) all have a common thread: feelings. Feelings are a complex area when it comes to a toddler and Browne tackles them with a deft hand and gentle illustrations. Each of these titles is unique in its approach so here's a little summary to get you started:
How Do You Feel: Each page features a different emotion from angry, to guilty, to confident to shy. The emotions are illustrated by a charming little monkey and his various scenarios. E is especially fond of the guilty monkey who's drawn a picture on the wall. He regularly remarks that the monkey was naughty and then smiles a smile that promises much trouble in future!
Silly Billy: Billy is a worrier. I found this one interesting because I've not spoken with E about worries but clearly they are starting to develop as he gets older. Willy worries about seemingly everything but with help from his grandmother and a set of worry dolls he's able to overcome his fears and get a good night's sleep.
Willy and Hugh: I'm a big fan of this book and it's due in part to the successful narrative. Small, wiry Willy needs a friend and he finds an unlikely companion in Hugh. They each have something to offer the other and delight in one another's company. E and I both have a good chuckle over the final image of Hugh dressed up in his own version of Willy's trademark outfit. They're on facing pages with their arms outstretched and innocent looks of pure joy on their faces. It's worth the whole book!
Do yourself a favor and get to know Anthony Browne's work while your little readers are still of age. He has some wonderful things to say about reading and picture books and his illustrations are worthy of many a look. You'll find more on the children's laureate website and at Walker Books.