cover image Chocolate Wolf

Chocolate Wolf

Barbara Cohen. Philomel Books, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21961-0

Lovers of the time-honored picture book genre in which an inanimate object (plush rabbit, tin soldier, etc.) comes to life and finds or fails to find a home may warm to this offering, which adds little to the standard formula. A chocolate wolf escapes from a candy store, where no one wanted him anyway, only to encounter many hazards in the outside world-hungry people, heating vents, a family of rats. Though hungry, the rats invite the wolf along to listen under a porch to a boy's bedtime story before they make a meal of him. The boy's dog rescues the wolf from the rats, and the boy takes him from the dog on the very last page: "" `A wolf!' he exclaimed. `Are you going to eat me up, Wolf?' `No,' said the wolf. `Are you going to eat me up, Boy?' `No,' said the boy."" And after this promise of mutual non-consumption, the wolf sits happily on the boy's dresser ""for a long, long time."" Ray, who also illustrated Cohen's posthumously published Robin Hood and Little John, enlivens the volume somewhat with the varied angles of his compositions. Curb-level perspectives and huge open mouths show the world from the chocolate wolf's point of view, and the wolf himself has an appealing forlorn dogginess while looking lupine and chocolatey. But given the lackluster ending, readers are unlikely to clamor for many bedtime readings, on or off the porch. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)