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A couple of Christmases ago I bought my son a set of ten Winnie the witch books which came presented in a canvas book bag from The Book People. The set cost just £9.99 which I think is unbeatable value personally. One of the books in the set was happy birthday Winnie which I shall review today.
Happy birthday Winnie is written by Valerie Thomas and illustrated by Korky Paul. It was first published in 2007 by Oxford University Press and so it is a relatively new book. The front cover of the book shows a happy looking Winnie with masses of birthday presents and as it is so colourful it really invites you in to the book.
Happy birthday Winnie tells the story of Winnie as she excitedly prepares for her birthday party on Friday the 13th (which coincidentally my birthday falls on next year!) She sends invitations, makes party clothes for both herself and for Wilbur the cat and prepares food and the garden so that it is ready for her party. When the day arrives all of Winnie's guests come to the party and bring weird and wonderful gifts and play games. The party ends with Winnie blowing out the candles on her amazing birthday cake and feeling very grateful for her lovely family and friends.
This is actually a lovely story to read with your child on the run up to their birthday as it shows Winnie getting all excited during the planning of her party as well as enjoying the actual party too. I personally think this is a bit of a feel good story in that everything is happy and for once nothing really goes wrong for Winnie! My son is able to read this book independently as he is a good reader and I would imagine he will still read this book for another year or two yet as the language used isn't particularly complex but it is not simple enough to be thought of as babyish.
With every review of a Winnie the witch book that I do I go on about how wonderful the illustrations by Korky Paul are and this is also the case with happy birthday Winnie. The illustrations are so detailed and colourful that you cannot help but enjoy looking at them but for me I just love how Wilbur the cat is brought to life by the illustrator. In this book we see such cheeky expressions as he steals some party food and then stuffs his face with birthday cake which is amusing to look at.
I think that this book is an enjoyable read for young children and I think it would be suitable for children aged three to around eight years of age so the book lasts well I feel. I would say if you can find this set with The Book People you should snap it up as it is excellent value.
Thank you for reading my review!
My daughters love all the Winnie the Witch books that are written by Valerie Thomas and illustrated by the brilliant Korky Paul. In all of the stories you meet the wonderful flamboyant witch, Winnie, and her long suffering cat, Wilbur. Winnie loves to dress in bright zany combinations which are definitely clothes to match her colourful character! Although, she is generally a pretty good witch, there are occasions when spells do sometimes go wrong and it is often Wilbur who suffers as a consequence! The latest book we have read is a really lovely story called 'Happy Birthday Winnie!'
The story starts with Winnie looking at the calendar and realising that her birthday is coming up soon on Friday 13th - when else? She decides to have a big party so the week is filled up with sending out invitations, making new clothes, preparing lots of party food and getting the garden ready for the party. This is not too difficult if you are a witch and can just wave your magic wand! After doing this and shouting the magical 'ABRACADABRA!', the garden looks totally amazing with a bouncy castle, magic maze and so much more!
Friday 13th arrives and all Winnie's wonderful assortment of guests arrive bearing some amazing gifts. These include a magic carpet, a bat in a cage, a book of special spells and a magic trumpet - what more could any witch want on her birthday? They play all sorts of fabulous party games which are a lot of fun but everything does get incredibly noisy so Winnie decides to quieten all her guests down with three toots of her new magic trumpet. When she does this though, all the guests disappear which is not a lot of fun for Winnie as it's her party! Luckily, she does work out what to do and she gets all her guests back in time for them to help her create the best birthday cake ever! Everyone has to shut their eyes and think of their best birthday cake ever. As they do so Winnie turns around, stamps her feet three times, waves her wand, recites those magic words (you know the ones!) and then before everyone's eyes is the biggest, best birthday cake ever! What a great way to end the party and even Wilbur has a slice of his favourite cheesecake flavour too!
This book is so much fun and one that will really appeal to small children. Imagine the idea of the best birthday party ever and being able to include everything that you wanted which is just what Winnie is able to do! Who wouldn't love the idea of that? This book does not have the usual sort of storyline with a problem to solve and a resolution but it is wonderful to read about and see all that happens at the party. We love the wonderful assortment of guests that turn up. There is an array of cousins, aunties and uncles who all bear an uncanny resemblance to Winnie. It's great fun to spend some time to take a look at all the other guests arriving too and if you are familiar with more of Korky Paul's books you might spot some other characters that you recognise! We have read books about Professor Puffendorf and Captain Teachum and my younger daughter was very excited when she spotted them in Winnie's garden. I think that it is very clever of Korky Paul to have included these characters as it then reminds you about his other books too.
Now that I have mentioned Korky Paul, I have to say that, as always, all of his illustrations are absolutely superb. We are used to seeing Winnie with her wild frizzy hair, red pointed nose and incredible dress sense, but there is also so much to take in with all the other characters too. Added to that the wonderful pictures of the gardens, the presents and the fabulous cake at the end that soars almost as high as the sky and they are so delightful for a small child to look at and enjoy. The attention to detail is second to none and we can spend ages just looking at everything that is going on in just one illustration!
The story is told in a very easy way that makes it accessible for young children. My eldest daughter is six and is now quite a proficient reader and very much enjoys reading the book to herself, as well as to her younger sister.
Overall this is another great Winnie the Witch book to add to the collection. It is published by Oxford University Press and has a RRP of £5.99 although I am sure that you could shop around and find it for less than that.