cover image Wolf and Dog

Wolf and Dog

Sylvia Vanden Heede, trans. from the Dutch by Bill Nagelkerke, illus. by Marije Tolman. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $16.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-877579-47-9

Venden Heede’s Dutch chapter book is gracefully translated by Nagelkerke, who renders even its rhymes and wordplay in natural-sounding English. Wolf is an ill-mannered boor of a carnivore who devours his bacon straight from the pan. His cousin Dog is a creature of civilization, with “a basket. And a boss [owner].” In nine loosely related episodes, the meek and nervous Dog begins to probe Wolf’s weak spots, verbally fencing with him and taking advantage of his inability to read. Vanden Heede is careful not to choose sides; both creatures have their moral failings. “I’ll do it,” Dog says, when Wolf asks for a favor. “But I want to be in the news.” The bloodthirsty Wolf, for his part, has some poignant vulnerabilities. “I can’t bark,” he tells Dog. “The kitty just laughs at me.” Tolman’s miniature color vignettes are gems, but they have bite, too; she draws Wolf sitting atop a stool of bones eating meat from a tire balanced on an old toilet. While it’s not for the fainthearted, readers who enjoy battles of wits will savor Vanden Heede’s dark comedy. Ages 7–up. (Sept.)