Happy Birthday, Big Bad Wolf

Frank Asch, Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55337-368-1
The Big Bad Wolf turns out to be a softy in Asch's high-spirited farce. The pig family hides when the wolf knocks on their door, but Little Pig recalls his grandfather's surprise party and assumes it's the wolf's birthday. He springs from his hiding spot, yelling "Surprise!" and his parents play along. The wolf, who's never had a party, is easily convinced: "Hmmm... Pigs for dinner and cake for dessert... That sounds just fine to me." Rendered digitally, Asch's naïf artwork offers some comic gold: after Little Pig gives the wolf his stuffed "snuggle bunny" as a gift, the wolf chomps on it, and Momma and Poppa Pigs' worried expressions, as they scramble to stage an impromptu birthday party, are spot-on. When the wary pigs escape into the woods, the abandoned wolf bursts into tears, and Little Pig runs back to comfort his new friend, who concludes, "As much as he liked the taste of pork, there was no way he could eat the Pig family now." Big-hearted Little Pig is endearing, yet the hapless wolf takes the cake in more ways than one. Ages 3–7. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2011
Release date: 02/01/2011
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