ISBN: 9781760651596 Imprint: Walker Books Australia Australian RRP: $19.99 New Zealand RRP: $22.99
Despite it being the last week of term, this was another fun read this week and one that I enjoyed immensely with so much to commend it, particularly to your middle primary kiddos.
The Greycoat family – Randall, Leonora and their only cub, Boris – live in their splendid home in Moravia but are trying to decide on their next holiday destination. There are objections from all directions to various suggestions but when Boris reads that Scotland is planning to ‘re-introduce’ wolves, the family immediately decide that they should be the first to visit. Of course, Scotland very likely is not expecting a well-dressed, affluent and articulate family of wolves to arrive in the Highlands but the Greycoats are thrilled to be early adopters and determined to make a great impression. This is particularly so as they can trace their ancestry to Scotland – to their venerable ancestor, Lambert McLupus the first wolf to become a Scottish baron. And as if that’s not enough, it is well-known that the cakes in Scotland are wonderful and given those in Moravia are horrid, that would likely be an incentive for anyone, let alone wolves with phenomenal appetites!
The Greycoats create quite a stir but also make some instant friends which is just as well as they encounter a particularly nasty property developer who is not only determined to raze a beautiful old home but who will do so at the expense of the local fragile ecosystem and rare wildlife.
This is absolutely loads of fun to read and children will intuitively pick up on the thread of resentment towards those who are different, without justification as well as the environmental theme.
Either as a read-aloud or for independent reading this is a cracker and will very quickly find a following among your readers from around eight years upwards.
In my experience kids just love send ups of the Big Bad Wolf and this book will delight those from 4 years upwards with its humorous text and illustrations, along with the references to other fairy tales.
Little Red Riding Hood is out for a stroll in the woods on her way to Grandma’s house when the Wolf sees her and concocts a cunning plan. He races ahead planning to devour the old grandmother and then LRRH herself. Grandma is nowhere to be seen in the house but her nightdress is so the Wolf – oh so clever! – decides to disguise himself and therefore trick Red. Sound familiar so far? Well yes, but in your traditional versions the Wolf does not find himself locked outside the house wearing a pink nightie which he cannot get off.
The derision of other fairy tale characters who encounter the hilarious sight of the terrible wolf wearing such a garment will send readers into fits of laughter. Despite the ignominy the BBW remains convinced that he can still best little Red – but sadly the trip over the hem of the nightie is his final fall into shame and humiliation.
Whether just for a general read-aloud or as part of a ‘fractured fairytales’ unit this will amuse your readers and will undoubtedly be requested for repeat performances.
One thing I’ve learned in my years of being a teacher-librarian is that all kids, big and little, love fractured fairy tales.
Wolfie is fed up with fairy tales promoting the nonsense that wolves are the bad guys. He’s determined to put the record straight. After all, he’s really a sweet creature and he is ready to prove himself so by rescuing a princess because that’s what heroes do!
What he hasn’t quite reckoned with is that annoying the book’s narrator is not likely to provide him with a satisfactory outcome and that gives the reader a load of laughs. Wolfie tries to rescue Rapunzel – but she has a screaming fit at the very sight of him and ends up rescuing herself (as all great princesses do!). With that disaster behind him he’s swooped up by a passing dragon and oh oh, this is certainly not the heroic ending Wolfie had imagined!
Deb Abela’s text is super funny and lots of interesting fonts give it real oomph. The illustrations are likewise very humorously done and discerning readers will get a real giggle out of some of the visual jokes.
A great addition to your collection for all those units on fairy tales – traditional or otherwise.
Highly recommended for readers from around six years upwards.