Rolf is a wolf. A GOOD little wolf. His best friend is the elderly Mrs Boggins, he likes baking cakes, eats all his vegetables and is always kind to his friends. He hopes that he will never meet a real live big BAD wolf….
Sometimes, pictures speak louder than words.
This book is a visual triumph and another example of how words and pictures interact to create the whole text. It begins with a disembodied voice asking if everyone is sitting quietly. The group consists of Little Red Riding Hood, a woodcutter, three little pigs, and Rolf. For adults who know the texts, a faint whiff of suspicion is evoked at this point, and never really goes away. The big bad wolf, as seen above, is big, dark, and deliciously scary. He inspects Rolf to ascertain if he really is a wolf (including a comic sniff of his bottom) and then gives him the task of proving himself. Rolf is not especially good at howling, or blowing down his best friend’s house, but the big bad wolf has one final suggestion… and it involves a knife and fork.
The brilliance of this book lies in what is left unsaid. The knife and fork is the only clue to the wolf’s intentions and the reader’s need to decode the story continues until the very last page and an ending that is not only genuinely surprising but, in this day and age, very, very brave. And funny. Wickedly so.
Good Little Wolf was shortlisted for the 2012 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and is Nadia Shireen’s first book; a highly accomplished debut. It would be best avoided for the under-3s: the humour is subtle, there is a lot of deduction required from the pictures, and the ending may not suit the sensitive, but with older preschoolers and schoolchildren it will no doubt prove very popular.
Visually arresting, morally intriguing and with a sting in the tail, this is well worth a read.
And if you so wish, you too can learn how to draw wolves…