A Hero Called Wolf

A Hero Called Wolf
Lucy Rowland and Ben Mantle
Macmillan Children’s Books

There are all kinds of heroes in storybooks – big ones, small ones, male and female, but wolves? No, never. That is certainly the experience of the one in author Lucy Rowland and illustrator Ben Mantle’s new book. It’s a wonderful take on the world of fairy tales starring a reformed wolf who now, thanks to the library, has become an avid reader who loves to share that book love with his new friends.

One day however, he pays a visit to the library looking very downcast. He’s come to the realisation that no matter what kind of heroes he meets in the books he reads there’s never, ever one of the lupine variety: wolves are always portrayed as the baddies. The librarian makes a suggestion: write the kind of story you want to read. Do I have what it takes, he wonders, far from sure. Then into the library storms a woodcutter with a blunt axe.

Shortly after a troubled knight appears, followed by a handsome prince, all of whom wolf helps with the aid of books, the prince actually calling him “My hero!”

Suddenly there comes a shelf-shaking stomp heralding the arrival of a giant. The others want to send him packing.

Can Wolf summon up his courage to act … ‘For heroes are BRAVE and they’re CLEVER and KIND.’ Could that now be Wolf? …

The combination of Lucy Rowland’s rhyming text, which is a joy to read aloud, and Ben Mantle’s playful, often arresting illustrations make for a stereotype-challenging tale. As well as being huge fun to share, it demonstrates that everybody can be a hero, no matter who or what they are. That, and giving a real plug to the importance of libraries and the power of reading.

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