Silly Mr Wolf / Wolf in the Snow

From Andersen Press come not one but two wolfish stories from award winning picture book creators this month:

Silly Mr Wolf
Tony Ross
Andersen Press

Like most storybook wolves, Mr Wolf is a very tricky character and a master of disguise – at the outset at least.

Said lupine has long outgrown his ‘sheep’s clothing’ and so in more recent times in order to obtain a juicy sheep for his dinner he’d put a bag over his head and changed his name, first to Mr Jones – which worked briefly; then (with a new suit and bigger bag) to Mr Smith. Again this ruse was temporarily successful,

so could it be third time lucky with a change of bag and outfit?

The sheep appear ready to fight their corner except for an old one . He points out that as well as whacking Mr Wolf, they need to deal with his pals. How can they drive away four wolves?

Is it he who’s the silly one? I don’t want to be a story spoiler so remember the title of the book and decide for yourself …

Daftness as only Tony Ross can deliver it, but there’s an important stranger-danger message here too.

Wolf In the Snow
Matthew Cordell
Andersen Press

Almost wordless, this is a wonderfully satisfying story about a little girl whose kindness is repaid one chillsome day.

The book opens with a view of a family warm inside their home.

Then, clad in a red hooded jacket, the little girl leaves the house, bids her dog farewell and sets off into the gently falling snow.
At the same time a pack of wolves is on the move.

This is no Red Riding Hood tale though, for then comes the title page after which we see the same child waving to her schoolmates and setting off homewards in the now, heavily falling snow.

Turn over and the wolves emitting steam from their mouths are heading in the girl’s direction.

The snow falls ever faster as the girl and a wolf cub approach one another to the accompaniment of the beginnings of a soundtrack.

With the pack’s howls resounding across the distant hills, she tenderly lifts the little creature and proceeds to carry it towards the sound with the blizzard swirling all around. Across streams, past antagonistic animals she trudges until at last she reaches its mother.

By now the child is well nigh exhausted but she continues her journey until she can go no further and collapses into the snow.
Then it’s time for the wolves to show their gratitude and they do so by surrounding her in a protective circle and howling.

Their call reaches her family and eventually all ends happily.

How brilliantly Cordell captures the multitude of feelings, both human and animal, in his pen-and-ink and watercolour ilustrations; and what an enormously satisfying circularity there is – both verbal and visual – to this superb tale.

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