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Where Willy Went...


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A small masterpiece on the facts of life from the hilarious Nicholas Allan.

About the Author

Nicholas Allan studied Fine Art at the Slade and has completed an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. His highly original picture books have won him several awards including the Sheffield Children's Book Award for The Queen's Knickers and the Federation of Children's Books Best Picture Book Award for Demon Teddy. He is also the author of Hilltop Hospital, a book that has been adapted into a BAFTA-winning television series. Nicholas Allan is the author/illustrator of over thirty children's books.


The hero of Allan's (The Queen's Knickers) droll and informative tale is a sperm named Willy who lives inside Mr. Browne "at the same address" as 300 million other sperm. The author wryly portrays that address and its inhabitants in a cross-section drawing of Mr. Browne's testicle, in which minuscule sperms bustle around a crowded town-like setting, complete with a "sperm bank," swimming pool and cinema. The author then zeroes in on Willy, who practices daily for the "Great Swimming Race," the prize for which is the "beautiful egg" inside Mrs. Browne. Willy isn't able to answer his teacher's question about how many sperms he'll have to beat ("He wasn't very good at math, but he was very good at swimming"). But the teacher provides the racers with two maps-whimsically depicting the anatomically correct "inside" views of Mr. and Mrs. Browne. That night, when the couple "joined together" (lumpy bedclothes suggests their presence underneath), the race gets underway. Willy outswims his main rival and burrows into the egg. Rudimentary time-lapse drawings reveal "something wonderful" happening as the egg develops into a fetus and Mrs. Browne gives birth to a baby girl. "Where had little Willy gone? Who knows?," asks the author, who then slyly notes that when the child grows older, "she found she wasn't very good at math... but she was very good at swimming!" Delivering basic facts with subtlety and humor, this sprightly story will serve as a useful catalyst for adult-child dialogue. Ages 4-8. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

PreS-Gr 2-Willy is not good at math but excels at swimming. He and his nemesis, Butch, practice every day for the Great Swimming Race. Finally, armed with goggles, a number, and two maps, he and 300 million other competitors swim madly for the prize-the egg inside Mrs. Browne. Willy is a sperm. All his practicing pays off and he victoriously burrows into the "lovely and soft" egg, which grows and grows in Mrs. Browne's tummy until it becomes a baby girl. But "Where had little Willy gone? Who knows?" However, when little Edna is old enough to start school, she isn't very good at math but she IS very good at swimming. This breezy and amusing romp may not resolve those pesky questions about reproduction but it certainly lends personality to the process of fertilization. The double-entendre title is indicative of the cheeky and humorous text, which is lively, well paced, and essentially accurate. The line and watercolor illustrations perfectly suit the irreverent tone and include a lift-the-flap expanded page and a "find Waldo"-style spread. Both sperm and humans are endearingly expressive. As to the science, an unclothed Mr. and Mrs. Browne are anatomically correct but the racing map of Mrs. Browne's reproductive system is confusingly vague. Nonetheless, adult readers will be thoroughly entertained and children will be charmed if not completely informed. While a relatively innocuous and engaging piece of sex ed, this title could be a potentially provocative addition to picture-book collections.-Carol Ann Wilson, formerly at Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Frank and funny . . . Takes young children, skipping and whooping, out from under the gooseberry bush * Independent *
Likeably frank . . . Truthful and informative . . . Use it as a springboard for your own elaboration and discussion * Daily Telegraph *
A wonderful way to introduce the facts of life to young children in a non-threatening, accessible way * Right Start *
The facts of life are presented to young readers in an accessible format, helped by Nicholas Allan's humorous illustrations * Waterstones Books Quarterly *
Hilariously funny, warm, endearing and totally non-threatening - this small masterpiece presents the facts of life to young children in a unique but totally accessible way. A godsend for any parent faced with awkward questions * Parents News *

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