Monday, October 22, 2012

Willie and Uncle Bill

Booklist (April 15, 2012 (Vol. 108, No. 16))

Grades K-3. By dividing her picture book into vignettes, Schwartz succeeds in making the three relatively low-key episodes feel like something much greater: the proof of a genuine, long-lasting relationship between a little boy and his unflappable Uncle Bill. Each tale starts with Bill showing up to babysit his nephew Willie—but from there, results vary. First, Willie takes a scissors to his head, necessitating a late-night trip to the flamboyant uncle’s favorite salon, Hair—by Pierre. Bill’s reaction to Willie’s new buzz? “It’s very . . . Now.” The second story involves cooking a revolting concoction called Icky Stew, which is refused by every human and animal, until some seagulls take a liking. The final, and best, story illustrates how Bill—and adults like him—truly understand what strikes the fancy of kids. Bored, Bill takes his nephew to watch a rock band he knows rehearse in their garage. Yep, pretty awesome. Schwartz’s finely lined and candy-colored gouache art give things a sprightly feel, which perfectly matches the clear, though happily unstated, affection the two characters share for each other.

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