Happy Birthday, Winnie!

written by Valerie Thomas
illustrated by Korky Paul

Valerie Thomas's Happy Birthday, Winnie
illustrated by Korky Paul

a book in the Winnie the Witch series

Book review by Susan Syddall

Ages 4+

A Picture Book Which Inspires Children to Read

If you haven't come across the Winnie the Witch series of books yet, by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul, you're in for a treat! To say they are terrific is an understatement.

We recently read one of the books in the series, "Happy Birthday, Winnie!"

I love the way the creators of this story took the subject of birthdays and turned it into a unique story ... something totally unexpected which is what we've come to expect of Winnie.

For her birthday this year, Winnie decides to have a garden party. We follow her birthday preparations through the week which are heavily seasoned with rich humour.

The invitations have to be sent out by Winni-e-mail. This involves lots of flying envelopes and gorgeous stars.

There's the party dress to organise and the cat to dress. Let just say that Winnie has a unique taste in clothing!

Food must be prepared - something green, wriggling and slimy. Hmmm ... delicious or not?

The garden must be cleaned and rearranged. I wish I had a magic wand which could transform my garden like Winnie does in the book!

The story continues with the party itself, the guests and the activities they get up to. The author cleverly takes birthday party games that children are familiar with and gives them a magical twist which sparks the imagination.

Suddenly, however, the party comes to a complete halt as all of Winnie's guests mysteriously disappear! Some quick reading on Winnie's behalf and the problem is magically solved.

An enormous fold out towards the end of the book adds a new dimension to the story and makes the party one to remember.

Book review - Happy Birthday, Winnie!

This book has it all - great text, amazing illustrations and a strong story line complete with just the right amount of suspense and loads of humour.

While the words within the story have been well crafted and are a pleasure to read, it's the illustrations that deserve special mention.

Korky Paul is an award winning illustrator. His illustrations are full of amazing details. They're the sort of illustrations that you can look at time and time again and still find something new and often hilarious.

Colour has been superbly used throughout the book. Korky Paul has infused a rainbow of colours into the pages while still maintaining the underlying foundation of blacks and greys which fill Winnie's witchy world.

"Happy Birthday, Winnie" can definitely be used as a tool to enrich children's language skills. By using the illustrations, adults and children can engage in conversations about what children can see and what they think is happening or will happen. There is just so much to look at!

"Happy Birthday, Winnie!" is a book that engages people of all ages from the young to the more mature.

I'm not sure who gets the most pleasure out of reading Happy Birthday, Winnie! - my children or myself. Either way, it's has us all reading which is evidence of a really good book. Hooray for Winnie the Witch!

Winnie book covers

Read more of Susan's book reviews.

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