Willy and Hugh

Willy is a lonely chimpanzee living in a world of intimidating-looking gorillas, until one day he literally bumps into a gentle giant, Hugh Jape, and thus begins an exceptional and charming friendship. Despite their many differences Willy and Hugh discover they enjoy each other's company, they make each other laugh, and they help each other in moments of need. They also visit a zoo and look through the bars to see a caged human family - a surreal twist that is a hallmark of Anthony Browne. Empathy is quietly omnipresent: in the growing understanding between Willy and Hugh, and in their concern for the human family caged at the zoo (we too can't help but think how it must be for apes to be caged this way).  A very gentle way into talking about loneliness, prejudice and the possibilities of friendship with those very different from ourselves.


I completely agree, a lovely

I completely agree, a lovely story about the possibilities of friendship, and a nice way in to talking to children about prejudice, as Kate Raworth says. You can ask (leading) questions as you read side-by-side, 'Are Willy and Hugh the same? What does Hugh like doing? What is Willy afraid of? How did they help each other?' The story can be used as an emotional tool to gently guide children toward understanding that the difference between the two main characters doesn't threaten their friendship, in fact it underpins it: Hugh is big and strong and sees off Willy's bullies, Willy likes spiders and rescues Hugh from one, Willy likes reading and Hugh likes listening to stories ... There's a lovely twist on the last page where the two arrive wearing identical tank tops, realise and put their arms out toward each other for a wry but warm hug - soul mates!



I've never really taken to the characters of Willy and Hugh - but I do like the empathy angle, so four stars from me for this one.

Average: 4.5 (2 votes)
Anthony Browne
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