cover image The Big Bad Wolf in My House

The Big Bad Wolf in My House

Valérie Fontaine, trans. from the French by Shelley Tanaka, illus. by Nathalie Dion. Groundwood, $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-77306-501-4

This piercing account of the pain that results when adults harm those around them shows an abuser entering a child’s life as a parent’s partner. The titular fairy tale metaphor delivers a clear note of threat: “He didn’t need to huff, or puff/ or blow the house down.../ The big bad wolf just walked in the door.” In simple, grainy spreads of a white child with straight brown hair and a pink barrette, Dion (The Biggest Puddle in the World) delivers the story’s message with restraint, showing the results of violence rather than the acts themselves. A broken plate lies on the floor, its food scattered; the child looks at blue finger marks on their arm (“I had to cover them up with long sleeves, even when it was hot out”) and lines their shoes up in a perfect line (“I made myself as quiet as a lamb”). At last, mother and child escape to a shelter, where the protagonist instantly feels safe. The first-person telling’s candid descriptions of powerlessness, its emotional ramifications, and the prospect of escape all give language to an experience of abuse and let readers in similar circumstances know that they are not alone. Ages 4–8. [em](Mar.) [/em]