Mario Ramos
“C’est moi le plus fort”, translated by Jean Anderson
(Gecko Press)

A rather conceited wolf decides after his lunch to wander through the forest for a bit of an ego polishing exercise. Each small creature he comes across is accosted and bullied into tell him that yes, indeed, he is the strongest creature in the wood.. Until he meets a “toad of some sort”, who tells him that actually its mother is the strongest creature in the forest. The wolf argues, with hilarious consequences.

From the first glance at the front cover, you just know that wolf has a bit of an attitude, and fancies himself as a Big Bad Wolf. As the story progresses it becomes very quickly apparent that he suffers from an acute case of over-confidence. Interestingly at first he seems cocky but harmless, though there is something somber to the food-related nicknames he gives to the creatures he encounters (who come straight out of traditional tales). But  he shows his true self, fierce and nasty, as soon as he does not get the response, and respect, he expects from all the forest inhabitants.

There is nothing more satisfying for young readers that seeing a nasty bully get his comeuppance, and the ending certainly does not disappoint, while remaining light and funny.

The illustrations are bold and colourful, the gouache used giving the artwork a lovely thick texture, particularly with the wolf’s coat, which really looks “furry”. Interestingly, Ramos, talking about the book, said that he used the colour green on the cover because he wanted to hint at the presence of the mother.

With its bright artwork, repetitive narrative pattern and its slightly-threatening-but-mainly-humourous theme, I Am So Strong is really preschooler-friendly and is bound to become a hit.
There is a second book featuring the wolf, I Am So Handsome.

Sadly, Belgian born Mario Ramos passed away just before Christmas, a great loss to the world of French language picture books.

Illustrations © Mario Ramos

Source: review copy from Bounce Marketing