cover image Little Wolf's Book of Badness

Little Wolf's Book of Badness

Ian Whybrow. Carolrhoda Books, $14.95 (132pp) ISBN 978-1-57505-410-0

A far cry from some of the wittier fractured fairy tales, Whybrow (A Baby for Grace) paints this picture with broad strokes. In letters sent to his parents, Little Wolf chronicles his sluggish journey to Uncle Bigbad's Cunning College for Brute Beasts in Frettnin Forest. He hopes to learn from his uncle the nine Rules of Badness (""Huff and puff a lot""; ""Blow everybody down,"" etc.) in order to earn his BAD Badge and convince his family that he isn't a ""goody-4-paws."" Finally, the young wolf reaches his uncle's school, devoid of students (""I am so frightfully frightening, they all fled and flew away!"" explains the former educator), and the grouchy beast eventually expels Little Wolf. Befriended by a pack of Cub Scouts, the little fellow is at long last awarded a badge--albeit not the one he left home to earn. The expected fixtures are all here: the uncle unsuccessfully huffs and puffs to try to blow down the scouts' tents and disguises himself as Little Red Riding Hood's granny. Fans of Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series may be amused by some of the bathroom humor (Little Wolf returns from the camp with three cans of baked beans, which Uncle Bigbad greedily devours and which hasten his demise when his proximity to the fire causes him to explode), but much of Pilkey's winning originality is missing here. Ross's understated, childlike black-and-white sketches offer a welcome counter to the obvious text but can't completely bail out this lame spoof. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)