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Wolf Won’t Bite

Posted on Feb 21, 2011

Emily Gravett
(Macmillan Children’s Books)

The three little pigs seem to have reversed the situation and captured the wolf! They take full advantage of the situation by showing him off in a circus! They make him do all sorts of tricks and seem to enjoy slightly humiliating him too; after all, whatever you do to him, “Wolf won’t bite”. But Wolf seems a little too placid; will he or the three little pigs have the last word?

Another picture book by Emily Gravett, another absolute marvel. How does she do it? The lady seems to have a source of inspiration and talent that never runs dry. This book is sublime on so many levels. Firstly, as you may already know, we love fairy tale retellings in the Library Mice household and this new twist on the three little pigs is a great addition to our collection, and a very clever one too. The pigs are of course seen as the oppressors here, and despite the wolf’s many faults, you find yourself siding with him; those puppy eyes really did for me in this illustration on the right.
Anyway, I have always thought the three little pigs to be a fairly nasty lot, even in the original, so their attitude here does not surprise me.
Secondly, the design of the book is beautiful. The illustrations are, of course, stunning, using shades of grey and red with black and white. I find Gravett to be particularly apt at drawing anthropomorphised animals, and this one is no exception, particularly with the wolf (those puppy eyes again!). Also, I thought that the use of hand-drawn typography was particularly effective there, really giving an old circus atmosphere, as well as helping to convey the mood (especially in the last double-spread!).

Finally, there is a huge amount of humour in this book. The text is sparse but works in perfect harmony with the illustrations, which in turn bring so much extra meaning to the story (the double-spread when Wolf is being shot through the air is a great example of how humour is brought mainly through the artwork). Because the text is short, it will delight the youngest of readers but the quirkiness of the story will make it a sure winner with older children too (my 8 year-old son loves this book).
It really is a delight to read, and re-read, and re-read and … you get my point.
Simply splendid.
Sent for review by publisher
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