Questioning Willy the Wimp

by Anthony Brown 2008 Walker Books Ltd ISBN: 978-1406318746

A series of questioning activities to explore the illustrated children’s story ‘Willy the Wimp’

KS2 | 60 Mins | Teacher led


KEY QUESTION: Are we always happy with who we are? Can we change our identities?


A series of questioning activities to explore the illustrated children’s story ‘Willy the Wimp’ by Anthony Browne. They encourage learners to reflect on who they are and to consider change in their identity.


  1. Read the story together as a class, once through, and talk generally about it using simple questions to check understanding of the main events. Ask learners to take it in turn to ask the class quiz questions about the story e.g. What food was in Willy’s special diet? Explain that these questions are closed questions – with definite answers, and that you are going to read the book again, and ask more open questions, where there could be more than one answer, and people might have different ideas.
  2. The second time through the story, model asking open questions for the class, e.g. How does Willy feel about the suburban gorilla gang? and ask learners to think of questions for every other page, that others can then suggest answers for.
  3. Finally ask learners to work in small groups to think of philosophical questions about the story, where it is not possible to find a definite answer, but instead the questions help us to think about the world around us, e.g. Did being stronger help Willy to be happy?
  4. As a group, come back together and see what has been learned about identity. What does the story tell us about who Willy is, and what he’s like? Is he happy with who he is, or not? Does he end the story happier than at the beginning? The book Willy the Champ is an excellent follow on to this story.
  5. If you feel the following is appropriate you might cautiously extend into some further questions that encourage learners to think about, but they do not have to discuss, things which make them happiest, and which things might they want to change? If things can’t be changed are there ways we can find to be happy with who we are?

“Can we really change who we are inside?”
“Why did Willy still say ‘I’m sorry’ at the end?”


Based on original material created by The Linking Network and Lifeworlds Learning

Resources to download

  • Questioning Willy the Wimp word pdf