Winnie and Wilbur: The Monster Mystery PB Paperback – 7 Mar 2019
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The most puzzling Winnie and Wilbur adventure ever!
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Korky Paul’s illustrations are the usual reliable collection of bold scragginess and dynamic chaos. Apart from a maze page, which was a welcome but brief interlude in the reading session, there’s nothing unexpected here either. Despite being called ‘the monster mystery’ there’s nothing scary or ominous that will cause any upset.
There’s a slight twist to the ‘monster’ aspect and whether the mystery is actually ever solved, which with our kids ended up feeling like an unfinished ending rather than a surprise, but it didn’t seem to bother them too much.
(Spoilers). One thing is bugging me about the plot, making me think I’ve misunderstood something. Do the monsters have big footprints, or small footprints? If it says they have small footprints, then who does Wilbur think is leaving the big footprints at the end? If you can explain this one to me, please post a comment!
If you’ve read any other Winnie books, then you can be very confident of getting more of the same here. It’s a decent bedtime story, but I was hoping it would distinguish itself from the rest of the series somehow, but unfortunately this feels a bit Winnie-by-numbers.
Korky Paul's trademark stylings of the twosome make what is in all essence a very simplistic plot and language (for the intended audience) a thoroughly entertaining read with lots of additional detail from the bird who just won't believe that Winnie's broom is not made of worms, and hidden green people in the forest flora. It was nice to see fan art from the young children of Orchard Fields Community School, Banbury in the end papers, which is fun for us as the school (and indeed Korky Paul) is reasonably nearby to us so it's good for my daughter to see how different children her age near us are enjoying reading and art as much as her.
The language in the book is simplistic and doesn't have many adverbs or extensive prose because it is meant to bridge the gap from Biff, Chip & Kipper towards early chapter books so builds stamina from a few sentences to a few paragraphs a page. My 5 year old enjoys Winnie the Witch and can read them independently but enjoys reading with a person to draw out characterisation as she gains her confidence as a reader.
It's not an amazingly different story, it fits the formula, but then that's really what is wanted here, we want Winnie and Wilbur to get things wrong and in a jumble and then think she's really clever etc, and it's worked for 30 years to inspire a love of reading in young emerging readers, it's doing a good job and my daughter particularly was curious about the tree creatures!
My son absolutely loves this book. He's quite the fan of Winnie and Wilbur and I have to read it to him twice every night. One of the things he especially likes is finding all the different creatures that are hiding in the illustrations of the forest. He also likes shouting out Abracadabra whenever Winnie casts a spell. I love the fact that there is always something new to see on every page, so it doesn't become boring when you have to read it over and over again.
The story is simple and the characters are familiar, what makes it for me is the illustrations. I particularly like the plan view of Winnie's house at the end when you can see her swimming in the pool, and when they're having lunch on the last page there is so much to look at in the picture.
Overall - Another great Winnie and Wilbur story.