Scary stuff and not appropriate for sensitive readers. Keep reading…
There once was a white rabbit who went to the library and signed out a book on wolves. Like Alice in Through the Looking-Glass, the rabbit unknowingly becomes part of the book he is reading. Oblivious to the looming danger of a wolf, the rabbit learns that wolves travel in packs; can survive anywhere; have sharp claws and 42 teeth; and eat mainly meat. “They hunt large prey such as deer, bison and moose. They also enjoy smaller mammals, like beavers, voles and.… rabbits”. For sensitive readers out there, be assured that author and illustrator Emily Gravett provides an alternative ending for Wolves, one where the rabbit and the wolf share a jam sandwich and live happily ever after, but for everyone else – well, we know better.
Wolves is a quirky story with an ending that is completely unpredictable. Gravett has an amazing ability to build drama and tension without using lots of words; instead, she lets the readers fill in the blanks. She smartly plays on the common fear of the unknown and understands that what we imagine is often scarier than anything in real life could be. The visual and written puns will amuse readers of all ages, from the library ticket with stamped due dates at the beginning to the overdue notice at the end – Gravett has filled the book with humorous details. She uses a combination of collages, drawings (big soft pencil, textured gouache), photographs and a generous use of white space to create her illustrations, which make up for the lack of words and help add suspense to the story. You will want to shout and alert the rabbit of the looming dangers as he buries his head in his book. The size of the wolf increases menacingly, building the tension as the story progresses until the wolf fills the whole page. In climax of the story, a full spread, you are looking straight into the eyes of the wolf as the rabbit stands in his crosshairs. My favorite page has only one word on it, the shocking red book cover that fills three quarters of a spread like spilled blood, torn and shredded hinting of the rabbit’s untimely death. It’s become one of my favorite books (though perhaps not before bed time), as I love its dark humor.
Wolves, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author and Illustrator Emily Gravett
Emily Gravette started illustrating when she became a mom for the first time to prevent boredom, since she wasn’t used to being housebound (she has been traveling since the age of 16); she was looking for something to keep herself sane during the long hours by herself. Previously profiled when B is for Books reviewed The Rabbit Problem, Gravett was pleasantly surprised when her school project caught the attention of folks at Macmillan. Her first published book , Wolves, won not only the Macmillan Prize for Illustration but also the UK’s highest honor in illustration, the Kate Greenway Medal. Not bad for a first time author and illustrator – you never know where boredom can lead you.
Emily Gravette has a long list of books on her website that would make great holiday gift ideas, www.emilygravett.com
Publisher Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (August 1, 2006)