Another enjoyable story from the ever popular Winnie and Wilbur series by Valerie Thomas with delightful, distinctive and detailed illustrations by Korky Paul.
Winnie the Witch is bored but she’s determined to find something exciting to do. So, when she discovers that it’s Chinese New Year, she resolves to throw a very special party for all her friends and family. It takes a lot of preparation but with the aid of a few spells everything finally looks fantastic. Winnie’s house is transformed in red and gold, there’s a banquet of Chinese delicacies, paper lanterns, and a parade that includes a big dragon, some baby dragons, lions and one funny little baby lion. But where is Wilbur? Can Winnie and her guests find him before he misses the finale of fireworks?
I’ve been a huge fan of Winnie the Witch from the moment I met her and her hapless magic skills in the very first book many, many years ago. In this latest adventure, however, it is her big black cat, Wilbur, whose personality really shines. I just love the opening lines when Winnie is bored but Wilbur, we find, is never bored. He is happy sleeping. Skip to page two and I adore the way Wilbur wakes with a start at the prospect of food. Wilbur, we discover, loves anything to do with food. And this is perfectly captured in the wonderful Cheshire cat style illustration of Wilbur that accompanies the text.
While the text is quite long for a picture book (a characteristic of many of the books in this series), the story itself is a little less complex that some of the others. It does, however, have lots of educational value with a selection of the most popular Chinese artefacts, words, foods and traditions to learn about. There’s also a nice twist towards the end that succeeded in making me smile – largely because of Wilbur’s comment (sorry you will have to read the story to find out what he says).
As ever Korky Paul’s amazing illustrations are intricate and instantly appealing, with an excess of detail to fascinate the child reader. The wonders are really too many to mention but I must highlight the amazing transformation of Winnie’s house to Chinese styling in red and gold, and the dragons in the parade. I also loved the two birds fighting over a worm at the top of the page with the dragons and I spent far more time that I could really spare spotting the characters from some of Korky Paul’s other picture books in the crowd scene.
Overall, this is a must for collectors of this series of books. If you enjoyed this and haven’t already read it, you should read the first book – Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul. Alternatively, if you’re looking for another story about Winnie that’s linked to a different calendar event, why not try Winnie’s Haunted House by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul or Winnie and Wilbur Meet Santa.
Publication Date: January 2020
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Website: Winnie and Wilbur