Beware of Storybook Wolves


Lauren Child

Lauren Child has done a magnificent job of writing and illustrating the book. The story is a creative variation on the "What if?" questioning we like to encourage in students. In this case, "What if storybook wolves got out? What if other characters escaped from their stories?"

The tale concerns two wolves, the one from Little Red Riding Hood. The other comes from a variation, not yet written by anyone, of the Three Little Pigs, and is something of a wannabe Big Bad Wolf. Add a fast-thinking young child whose mother reads bedtime stories, an angry witch, and a disgruntled fairy godmother, and magic is sure to happen.

The artwork is drawn and colored first on what looks like oaktag or cardstock to me. Then each piece is carefully cut out and glued down to the appropriate pages of the story. I absolutely loved the little bunny slippers under the child’s bed! If the concept of a wolf in Cinderella clothing boggles your mind, you will surely want to share this story with your children.

If you use the 6 Traits of Writing in your classroom, this book is, of course, excellent for ideas. It is also outstanding for presentation, a part of conventions. There are not many examples of books for conventions, so you’ll want to take advantage of this one. I wish I had it in big book size!

There are a variety of fonts and font sizes used in the stories, as well as specialty writing, such as the part about the wolf looking in the mirror is written in the central oval of the mirror or the fairy godmother disappearing in words which squiggle like a wiggly worm down the edge of the page. One entire page is written as if the printing were being pulled and stretched – the child is trying to pull the illustration of Jell-O off the opposite page!

Your children will love the story, and you can use it to illustrate ideas, conventions, voice and word choice, at the very least. But the best part is using it to spark your students’ own writing. What if other fairy and folk tale characters were to leave their stories? Under what circumstances would they leave? Would they return, or might they prefer another storybook life? What adventures might they have? How would they interact with the children who have been reading about them for generations? How could a child convince a character to return to a favorite story?

The more you talk about the book, the more questions you and your students will probably ask, and the more ideas for writing will be generated!

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