A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy


A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy, illustrated by Matthieu Maudet (InfoSoup)

A young wolf who has been taught good manners by his parents heads into the wolf to hunt alone for the first time. One of the most important rules is that he must honor the final wishes of his prey. When he nets a rabbit, the rabbit requests that the young wolf read him a story. So the wolf heads home to find his favorite book but when he returns to the woods, the rabbit has left. Next, the wolf captures a chicken who requests music. After the wolf returns with an instrument, the chicken is gone too. The wolf then captures a little boy, who asks for a drawing. The wolf almost doesn’t agree, but the little boy has said please. When the wolf returns, the boy is still there waiting! And the boy loves the picture so much that he wants to show his friends. In a twist ending that is both satisfying and wonderfully dark, the wolf finally succeeds in his hunt.

Leroy sets a brisk pace in this picture book where much of the dialogue is done in speech bubbles and the text is kept to a minimum. The book dashes along on the hunt with the wolf, to and fro from his house and back to his disappearing prey. As the book gains momentum thanks to the repeating pattern, Leroy breaks it and moves ahead with the story at just the right time. It’s a wild and wolfish look at manners that everyone will enjoy.

Maudet’s illustrations convey the frustration of the young wolf very clearly. The wolf uses the book to capture the chicken and then leaves the instrument smashed on the ground in frustration. The limited color palette is filled with orange and red, played against gray and brown.

The book is completely wonderful, satisfying and the twist ending will leave children surprised and asking to hear it again. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.


A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts


A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (InfoSoup)

Ruben would love to have a bike like his friend Sergio has. Even though his birthday is coming, Ruben knows that he doesn’t get presents like bicycles. His family is large and there’s not enough money even for all of the groceries they need some weeks. One day when he is at the store for his mother, a lady in front of him drops a dollar bill. Ruben picks it up and puts it in his pocket, but when he looks at it later he discovers it’s actually a one-hundred dollar bill! That’s enough for him to get the bike he’s always wanted. Now Sergio has a dilemma, does he give the money to his family for groceries? Does he give it back to the woman? Or does he buy the bike of his dreams?

Boelts has created a story that is much more than a lesson in morals. This story is about ethical choices yes, but also about economic disparity and families living on the edge. It is a story told with real subtlety and offering an understanding of what would drive a child who is good at heart to steal what they thought was a dollar. It’s a book about the stories we tell ourselves to make our decisions “right” and the way that doing the right thing may not always be easy or clear.

The illustrations by Jones are modern and rather quirky. They fill the page with the vividness of the urban setting. The love and caring of Ruben’s family are also celebrated in the illustrations.

Subtle and smart, this book about decisions and doing the right thing asks all the right questions. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.