Wolf! Wolf!

John Rocco, Author . Hyperion $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-0012-6

Ably illustrated and imaginatively reconceived, this version of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" stars not the boy, but the wolf. No bloodthirsty brigand, this wolf is an arthritic has-been who's reduced to raising vegetables in a weed-choked garden. The boy's false cries from over the hill raise the wolf's hopes: could this mean a free meal? While children wonder whether the wolf will snag his prey, adults may be intrigued by the story's exotic setting. Under a canopy of wind-swept trees and cherry blossoms, the wolf sports a Chinese silk jacket of the type seen in old Fu Manchu movies, the boy wears a topknot, and the neighbors who complain about the boy's false cries sport queues and silk caps. Rocco (illustrator of Alice by Whoopi Goldberg) creates a world with internal consistency, and his deftly paced long shots and close-ups testify to his previous work in animation (including as art director for Shrek ). The wolf smoothly talks the boy out of a goat ("The villagers are only going to believe you if you really are missing a goat. I can help you with that," he says) but, in a beguiling ending, he spares the goat (which has eaten the weeds from his garden). "What's one breakfast," he tells the goat magnanimously, "compared to delicious vegetables for the rest of my days?" The wolf may move slowly, but the story gallops. Rocco substitutes a series of giggles for the traditional finger-pointing moral, a welcome development. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/19/2007
Release date: 03/01/2007
Genre: Children's
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