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The Tunnel


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About the Author

Anthony Browne is one of the most popular and stylistically distinctive children's book artists with a number of outstanding titles to his credit. Gorilla was the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal and the Kurt Maschler Award. Other titles include four books featuring Willy the lovable chimp: Willy the Wimp (9780744543636); Willy the Champ (9780744543568); Willy the Dreamer (9780744569643) and Willy's Pictures (9780744582406) as well as the picture books Into the Forest (9781844285594) and Silly Billy (9781406305760). In 2000, Anthony received the highest international honour for illustration, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, for his services to children's literature - the first British illustrator to win the prize since 1956.


K-Gr 3-- One day, while playing in an empty lot, Jack discovers a mysterious tunnel and fearlessly goes exploring. When he fails to return, his sister, Rose, who is characterized as a ``wimp,'' reluctantly and fearfully sets out to find him. Rose, who ``stayed inside on her own, reading and dreaming'' finds that the tunnel leads to a wood that grows increasingly forbidding as massive tree trunks take on weird and sinister shapes. Despite her mounting fear, though, she continues her search, finding Jack at last, magically turned to stone. Weeping, she hugs him and her tears return him to life. If this sounds cliched, it is. The text is flat, the story skimpy and without depth. The Tunnel lacks not only the wit and freshness of the author's Willy the Wimp and Gorilla (both Knopf, 1985), but it starts on a distressingly sexist note as well. Rose's bravery at the end is somehow not enough to remove the stereotyped characterization. The illustrations, on the other hand, are technically superb, and have great dramatic impact. The double spread of Browne's surreal wood is most effective, and gives readers lots to look at and think about (especially the image of Red Riding Hood's wolf, first seen in a picture over Rose's bed). Browne's arresting and psychologically intense illustrations offer far more excitement and meaning than his anemic text. --Linda Boyles, Alachua County Library District, Gainesville, FL

Browne's softly illustrated and reassuringly lilting narratives certainly suit small children, but his books' life themes are relevant to all. * Time Out *

With spare text and haunting paintings, Browne ( Gorilla ; Willy the Wimp ) creates an intriguing fantasy about sibling rivalry transformed by experience. In spite of her fears, Rose follows her brother into a mysterious tunnel, through a frightening wood, and finds that Jack has been turned to stone, but Rose's love and tears bring Jack back to life. This captivating tale of the thoughtful, bookish child who is ultimately strong, and her vulnerable, rough-and-tumble brother is a delight. Browne's artwork suggests that the story can be read at many levels; repeated metaphorical motifs are woven throughout the meticulous illustrations. His phantasmagorical forest, filled with animal shapes, will long linger in the reader's imagination. Ages 6-11. (Feb.)

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