Not long after William Nicholson contributed the original illustrations for The Velveteen Rabbit, he produced this 1926 gem for listeners up to 6. The story is simple: when young Mary is invited to her aunt's house, she packs in such a hurry that she forgets her favorite toy, a soldier dubbed Bill Davis, whereupon Bill, steadfast fellow that he is, sets off on a tiny odyssey to meet her at the train station. What makes the tale a benchmark in children's literature is how it unfolds; Nicholson blended the images and handwritten text together in a way that was thoroughly new, pointing the way to the modern picture book.
"Clever Bill, I have long felt, is among the few perfect picture books for children."—Maurice Sendak