The Last Wolf
One of this blog’s very favourite stories – the fairy tale from which its name derives in fact – Little Red Riding Hood is wonderfully re-imagined by the fabulous Mini Grey who gives it an ecological twist.
When Little Red dons her hunting gear and armed with popgun and lunch box, sets off into the forest ‘to catch a wolf” her Mum is far from worried; after all it’s been over a century since the last wolf sighting.
Appearances are deceptive however and her initial stalking activities yield only a rubbish bag and a tree stump …
so deeper into the forest our little hunter determinedly goes until she comes upon a door in an enormous tree trunk.
Eventually the door is opened by none other than the Last Wolf in the land.
Within Red discovers a cosy cave that is home not only to the Last Wolf but also the Last Bear and the Last Lynx.
Intrigued by this “human child” the wolf invites Red in for some tea. Red is equally intrigued to learn that the wolf and his pals have acquired the tea drinking habit and over a nice cuppa, they reminisce about the good old days when the forest was extensive and full of delicious things to eat, in stark contrast to the present parlous state.
Seeing the hungry look in the eyes of her hosts, Red decides to share her lunch and as the animals set about devouring the offerings – a hard-boiled egg, a sausage roll and a chicken sandwich – she chomps on her apple and ponders upon their plight and how best she might help them.
Once home, and yes her new friends do see her safely through the Last Woods to her front door, Red and her mum set about project reforestation.
In this ecological fable Mini Grey chooses her words for maximum effect (‘whooling noises and grabby twigs’ and ‘’a thousand tasty grazing beasts to bite …’) though her illustrations to do much of the story telling. And what a powerful impact they have especially this one …
Altogether a terrific book and one that listeners will demand over and over as they are swept along by the drama and flow of Mini Grey’s pictorial sequences: the way she expands the story-telling potential of each spread is genius.
There are witty literary allusions for adults to enjoy too in the portraits displayed on the tree-cave walls.