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Willa and the Wind (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards)) Hardcover – September 1, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-4–A girl visits the North Wind to rebuke him for keeping the rain clouds away and for blowing away the last bit of cornmeal. Old Windy, blustery and only slightly chastened, provides her with a magical, food-producing handkerchief, but a wicked innkeeper whom she encounters on her route home steals it from her. Willa returns twice more to Old Windy, who gives her a second magical gift–a gold-producing goat, quickly stolen by the innkeeper–and finally a third–a whistle to call up the wind and spin the man until he returns her other gifts. Del Negro's retelling of Peter Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe's The Lad Who Went to the North Wind invests the tale with an immediacy that will be great for telling or reading aloud. The magic, combined with the satisfaction of justice served and patience and courage rewarded, is a perfect recipe, told with a twinkle. Solomon's big-boned, big-eyed elongated figures echo the story's northern roots but have a delicious energy of their own in the swirling full-color, full-page illustrations.–Kathie Meizner, Montgomery County Public Libraries, Chevy Chase, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 1-3. Lively prose, eye-catching art, and a strong female protagonist characterize Del Negro's delightful story, based on a Norwegian folktale. After a mischievous wind blows away Sis and Willa's cornmeal, Willa sets off to demand restitution from Old Windy himself. The wind offers a trade--a magic handkerchief that provides food. After a greedy innkeeper makes a secret substitution so the magic handkerchief can't fulfill its promise, an angry Willa returns to challenge the wind. The same thing happens to the magic goat that Old Windy gives her, but a magic whistle proves to be the innkeeper's undoing. Willa's sassy, outspoken, courageous nature shines through in her -actions and in the folksy dialogue. Old Windy is distinctive as well; he is both playful and fair-playing, and his words, in large, colored^B capital letters, suggest dynamic read-alouds. Solomon's luminous artwork has a magical airiness about it. Its swirl of bright colors and motion aptly conveys both the drama and the humor of the tale, which is sure to capture kids' imaginations. Shelle Rosenfeld
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
When the wind steals her cornmeal, Willa marches right up to get it back. She doesn't... but she does get a magic handkerchief. (Pity for her the innkeeper stole it.) And when she marches up for a replacement, she doesn't get it... but she does get a magic goat. (Pity the innkeeper stole that too. He's just not very nice, is he?) And when she figures it out after getting a magic flute, well... the innkeeper isn't as bright as the wind or Willa, let's just leave it at that.
Good story, happy ending, and lovely illustrations. That's what I like to see in a book.
The greatest strength of this book is that Willa is strong and angry and brave, even though it takes her a while to catch on to the innkeepers' antics. Once she gets it, she proves herself to be highly intelligent and outsmarts the innkeeper to gets all of her magical gifts back. That the audience sees that it is the innkeeper causing the mischief with Willa's gifts makes it all the more satisfying when she finally catches him in the act.
The illustrations by Heather Solomon are exceptional due to their use of multiple mediums. The beautiful watercolors show a vibrant world and simple everyday objects, like Willa's skirt have shocking patches of magenta and orange. The illustrations also incorporate collage for large surfaces, giving the mountains a rocky exterior or the fireplace the look of real bricks. The use of pencil adds subtlety and gracefulness, such as in the tendrils on the wind. Sometimes the art simply illustrates the text; other times it accentuates it. The story is told from the point of view of an emotionally detached omnipotent narrator and the illustrations all the reader to see emotions play across the characters' faces.
My mother is a retired first grade teacher who bequeathed to us her personal library of children's books, accumulated during her 35+ years of teaching. It's refreshing to come across a new book like this one that's as memorable and as well-written and illustrated as any of these books from the past.