cover image Nicky and the Big, Bad Wolves

Nicky and the Big, Bad Wolves

Valeri Gorbachev. NorthSouth, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-55858-917-9

Scary dreams are the subject here--a common theme, but Gorbachev (So Much in Common) enlivens it with particularly droll illustrations. Nicky is a very small bunny with a very big imagination, as he proves when he awakens one night from a bad dream. His mother rushes in, and the four siblings with whom he shares his bed hang on his every word as he recounts his nightmare. Gorbachev does not spread Nicky's fright to readers--Nicky's dreams are relayed through a series of raffish pictures (e.g., a green-pajama-clad bunny alone in a small rowboat with a ship full of wolf-pirates bearing down on him; a bunny on foot, fleeing a gang of wolf-bikers in black leather). Mother Bunny is unimpressed (""A hundred wolves? Are you sure?""), and the air visibly leaks out of Nicky's fears (""Maybe it was fifty"")--but not before he's managed to petrify his brothers and sisters. Whether depicting the wolves in their many diverting incarnations, or five bunnies in bed, eyes squeezed tightly shut, mouths wide open as they holler for their mother, Gorbachev wrings every last ounce of humor from the action. The busy lines of the pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations whisk across the pages, underscoring the lighthearted mood that hums beneath the surface of both text and artwork--even the wolves are more frolicsome than fierce. Invested with a fresh, friendly sensibility, this picture book will keep little ones coming back for more. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)