Review Blog

Mar 03 2011

Peely Wally by Kali Stileman

cover image

Red Fox, 2011.
(Ages 2+) Kali Stileman is a newcomer to children's books but she's clearly an accomplished artist having done everything from painting murals to illustrating for The Body Shop. And here's another interesting fact: Scottish people may know exactly what 'Peely Wally' means (Pale and sickly looking) but it's an expression that's new to me and it just goes to show you learn something every day!
In this case Peely Wally is the opposite of pale - she's a rather ruffled looking flame coloured bird with bandy legs. She also wears a very hopeful expression, perhaps because she's just laid the most gorgeous polka dot egg. Peely Wally is a decidedly endearing character, but she's no expert at caring for newly laid eggs.
With a mixture of paint and collage and a style strongly reminiscent of Eric Carle, this is the story of the rolling, wobbling, somersaulting egg as it is fielded, bounced and passed among a menagerie of animals before safely returning to Peely Wally's nest.
The story and page design are wonderfully structured for little fingers to trace the egg's travels and finally lift the flap to discover what's inside as it hatches. My only minor criticism is that the flaps are made from flimsy paper that won't withstand much enthusiastic investigation. Apart from that this is a gem and will surely delight small children and their carers. I suspect Kali Stileman will be a name to watch.
Claire Larson

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