cover image Let's Play in the Forest: While the Wolf Is Not Around

Let's Play in the Forest: While the Wolf Is Not Around

Claudia Rueda. Scholastic Press, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-82323-4

An adaptation of a popular French and Latin American play song, this book may make an excellent introduction to the game upon which it is based, but as a literary work, it falls short. The story begins on the title page with a gaggle of creatures (plus a red-caped girl) who shout, ""Let's play in the forest while the wolf is not around!"" At each turn of the page, one of the characters on the left asks, ""Wolf, are you there?"" while on the right, the wolf answers by telling them what he is doing as he gets ready for school (e.g., ""I am putting on my underpants""). Rueda's (Nacho and Lolita) animated illustrations of the wolf emphasize the fierce toddler concentration of a child struggling to get dressed all by himself, but there's no suspense until near the end of the book, when the wolf finally says, ""Yes, and I am very hungry!"" If children were playing the game, the wolf would then tag the next person to be wolf, but in Rueda's version, the wolf eats a stack of pancakes instead (""My favorite!""). Rueda tries to create conflict by showing the wolf's big teeth and by repeating his answer (""I am going to eat..."") twice, but otherwise, the book contains little variation. Nonetheless, teachers and parents of preschoolers may find the instructions that appear at the end of the book useful in recreating the game. Ages 3-5.