We don’t review a lot of board books here on Kinderlit. To be honest, I always kind of viewed them as a bit of a necessary… Evil‘s not the right word, but perhaps inconvenience works. Sure, the pictures are often well done, and I suppose that’s really the point, but often the text leaves a heck of a lot to be desired. Even considering their intended audience and their inherent brevity, they’re often mindless or soporific.
This is why Eric Carle remains such a popular author; because he’s one of the few who manages to create succinct tales which are both beautiful and engaging on a narrative level, and his characters usually feel like characters, with personalities. Similarly, Jeremy Tankard creates wonderful board books, most notably the wonderful Grump Bird, which is probably the only board book our daughter still picks off the shelf at five years old.
Which brings us to Tim Hopgood, a British graphic designer who also happens to create wonderful board books, not entirely dissimilar to Eric Carle. His latest is Walter’s Wonderful World, the story of a spider named, of course, Walter, who just can’t seem to build a web to withstand the wind. He tries every shape he can think of, but to no avail; this is one determined spider, however, and he remains undeterred, getting up and trying again after each failure, until finally the solution comes to him and he builds the perfect, unbreakable web.
Hopgood has created a wonderful character in Walter, both visually and through the text. The narrative is deceptively jam-packed, teaching shapes and touching on themes of independence and determination, as well as an over-arching lesson that the surest way to success is through failure. I was reminded of the moral lesson of Andrea Beaty’s phenomenal Rosie Revere, Engineer; this is a bit of gateway book to that one, or perhaps its little brother.
The artwork is also great, employing mixed media and varying textures to create a layered and always captivating whole. The color palette is, well… The color palette in the traditional sense is non-existent; every color is present here, but Hopgood’s graphic designer eye is impeccable, and this kitchen sink approach works amazingly well, and never slips into garishness.
Walter’s Wonderful Web is better than perfect; it’s truly wonderful.
Kinderlit.ca requested and received a copy of Walter’s Wonderful Web in exchange for an honest review. Read about our review policy HERE.