The Wolves in the Walls - Thao Lam
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The Wolves in the Walls

The Wolves in the Walls

The Wolves in the Walls

Lots of things go bump in the night. When I was a kid, any sound coming out of the dark would send my imagination running wild (to be honest it still does). For years I would sleep under the covers, thinking it would hide me from any monster, goblins or ghosts. My philosophy: if I can’t see them than they can’t see me. Keep reading…

The idea for The Wolves in the Walls came from a nightmare Neil Gaiman’s youngest daughter Maddy had where she could hear the wolves moving in the walls. To help Maddy cope with the terror of the nightmare, her father told her several stories of how the wolves were captured. The Wolves in the Walls written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean is a story of a child’s worst fear upon hearing the house creak and groan. Lucy hears wolves in the walls of her house. No one in her family believes her. Instead they dismiss Lucy’s concern and remind her of the saying, “You know what they say, ‘If the wolves come out of the walls, it’s all over”, a statement that builds tension and momentum as it repeats through out the story. What will happen when the wolves come out of the wall? Your imagination can’t help but think of all the worst-case scenarios.

Dave McKean’s dark and moody illustrations only fan the fuel of your imagination. The colours are rich and dark, giving the illustrations a sinister feel to them. There are so many layers to Dave McKean’s illustrations; I can’t even begin to dissect it. So many different techniques were used to achieve each piece. Each illustration is a collage of photographs, computer-generated images, and pen and ink drawings (and those are techniques I can detect). Even the text has been tweaked to fit the style of the art. Words have been enlarged, boldfaced, and slanted to set the tone, rhythm, and pace of the story.

Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean are my favorite dynamic duo; they are always pushing the envelope in storytelling verbally and visually. Though their work may seem sinister for young audience, they don’t underestimate the courage of their readers. Together Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean has taken stuff of nightmares and given it a whimsical twist, teaching us along the way that when things get scary we have it in us to be brave.

The Wolves in the Walls, a children’s book review by Thao Lam

Author Neil Gaiman

As a child Neil Gaiman devoured every book he could get his hands on. He claims to have been raised in libraries and credits librarians for fostering his love of reading, “I wouldn’t be who I am without libraries. I was the sort of kid who devoured books, and my happiest times as a boy were when I persuaded my parents to drop me off in the local library on their way to work, and I spent the day there.”

Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean have been friends for years. Though distances apart (Neil lives in the US while Dave lives in the UK), they would talk constantly and non-stop, a rarity an industry where the only communication between an author and an illustrator is through their editor. You can read more about how this friendship bloomed through Neil Gaiman’s website


Illustrator Dave McKean

Dave McKean was born on December 29th, 1963 in Berkshire, England. Upon graduating from the Berkshire College of Art and Design, Dave took a trip to New York looking for work as a comic artist. Though he failed to find work, he was introduced to Neil Gaiman, a chance encounter that changed the course of both lives. The two became fast friends and have collaborated on numerous projects over the years, like The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.

To see more of Dave McKean’s artwork, check out his website


Publisher HarperCollins; First Printing edition (August 5, 2003)

ISBN-10 038097827X

ISBN-13 978-0380978274