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Monday, April 9, 2012

Willie and Unlce Bill, written and illustrated by Amy Schwartz. Holiday House, Thomas Allen & Son. 2012. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"Pierre put a dark green apron on Willie. Then he snipped here, and he snipped there. He snipped there, and he snipped here.
"Voila," Pierre said. Willie looked in the mirror. His hair was short. It was very, very short."

Uncle Bill is full of charm and wit, and not a little adventure in his soul. His visits are always a joy for Willie (guess who he's named for). When the doorbell rings three times, Willie knows that great things are sure to happen!

You have to understand that the adventure is not always attributable to Uncle Bill; he just seems to be at the center of it in each of the three short stories presented for our enjoyment and discussion. Uncle Bill and Willie love and admire each other. They may even a similar genetic makeup!

The first story has to do with foreshadowing and an untimely haircut. When Willie's mother suggests: 'Make sure you keep a good eye on Willie today.', she means it. That it is not taken to heart has to do with lunch preparation, and a passion for music and dance that leaves Willie alone, and locked in the bathroom. Do you remember the first time your child took scissors in hand and attempted a haircut, or the first time you thought you had it in you to trim their hair on your own? Imagine Willie's Mom's surprise upon her return at the end of the day!

But she loves Uncle Bill, too. So, it is not the last time that he is invited to spend time with his nephew. There are two more stories. One is called 'Icky Stew' and the other 'The Outing'. Seems foreshadowing is part and parcel of all. In the second, it's 'please, just don't do anything I wouldn't do.' and in the third, it's 'It would be good, Bill, if you two could have a peaceful evening.' Come on!

Mom may have her suspicions. The full story is never divulged, except to a rapt and highly entertained audience. These small adventures are the stuff of great storybooks and Amy Schwartz clearly knows that! The author's brightly colored and detailed cartoon artwork adds much to the appeal. This is a book that will be enjoyed and is sure to encourage storytelling from the listener's own personal life. My kids have many suchn stories to tell about their Uncle Jack!

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