Always on the lookout for interesting, different books for my daughter, I picked this one out at the local library. From the cover, it seemed to be about children being afraid of scary dreams or monsters in their room. We are going through a phase of being scared of the dark (or heck, scared of her bed, I think, at this point, something is definitely scary IN her bedroom as she refuses to sleep there). So we have tons of books coming in about children’s fear of the dark.
There are 12 short chapters in this book and the set-up is completely different than most books. Each chapter begins with one or two short sentences such as, “Sometimes I had to cheer him up when he was feeling discouraged. After all, Zorro was my friend.” Then we see the wolf and the boy together on the next pages…the text is written in lines above their heads as each of them speaking to the other one. Some of the text is in red like the “ROAR!!!!!” of the wolf or bold print and some of the text is written from very small to very large lettering. The illustrations are very simple line drawings in black, white, and blue. The little boy and his friends are always done in blue while the wolf is always dark black. The boy is outlined and not shaded in while the wolf is shaded-in, making him look menacing in many places of the story. Their moods are easy to see from their body positions…when the wolf is trying to be scary, he bares his teeth and raises his arms and when the boy is pouting, he puts his hands in his pockets and looks down at the floor. We really do not see the house or school around them, but parts of the buildings such as a window only or the closet door or even a wall. Really, the wonderfully explicit illustrations could have told the story without the text!! Most of the pages either have one small picture scene or four small picture scenes.
This short story would make a great starter book for beginning readers as they can tell what is going on by the many pictures. It does get intense, but not enough to scare small children. They might jump and then laugh at a couple of scenes when the wolf is practicing scaring children in the story. We open the book and see a boy walking by a wall with a wolf leaning against the wall. He thinks the wolf is a dog, but the sad wolf tells him differently in a depressed manner. The wolf explains that children are not afraid of him any more. The boy grabs his hand and pulls him along to get a cookie. And that is how the Big Bad Wolf (the real one) came to live in his closet. Throughout the book, he feeds the wolf one cookie at a time, except for the time that he brought in cat food . The first problem was the name, the boy wanted to name the wolf Zorro, but the wolf said his name was Bernard. This scene was really cute with the boy insisting on it and the wolf insisting he had a name already.
He tries to teach the wolf how to be scary again and even scares the wolf by roaring himself. The wolf’s homework is to make scary faces. He comes home one day to find the wolf crying, come to find out the wolf had tried to eat the boy’s sister, but lost his nerve. The boy said that was okay and says they will keep trying. Finally by the end, Zorro the wolf roars loudly and scares the little boy and all his friends. The book ends with the boy congratulating the wolf on his accomplishments.
Really, I felt that the end of the book came too suddenly and ended without telling us what happened to the wolf. Did he stay with the boy? Did the boy’s sister get eaten? What? My daughter enjoyed this book and laughed out loud at many parts of it. She also loved ROARING with the storylines. The story does not rhyme or flow in any sort of way, it is just a conversation between a boy and a wolf. Recommended for beginner readers who are not afraid of the Big Bad Wolf!
This book features the Big Bad Wolf in a different light while a boy befriends a wolf and teaches him how to be scary.
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