The Big Bad Wolf in My House by Valerie Fontaine, illustrated by Nathalie Dion (9781773065014)
When the Big Bad Wolf came to the little girl’s house, he didn’t have to huff and puff at all. He was invited in by her mother. At first, he was nice to her mother but his eyes were always cold when he looked at the girl. When her mother was late coming home one day, he got mad and called her bad names. Her mother became quiet and smaller. The girl became silent and made sure to be tidy. The wolf threw things and didn’t apologize. Instead the mother and daughter apologized and cleaned it all up. The wolf would howl and create bruises. The little girl made a house of straw with blankets on her bed to protect her. She hoped the wood door would keep him out. Then she built bricks around her heart. Finally, one day, her mother told her to pack her bag and they fled to a home for women and children where the little girl could finally sleep in safety.
This frank and stark book is a French Canadian import. The use of the Big Bad Wolf image in the book clearly marks the wolf in the house as a bad person from the first page. Further into the book, the little girl tries to build protection around herself with different elements, turning at last to bricks around her heart. This is a particularly moving part of the story, as her defenses are not respected, just as her mother’s are not. The book does end in a hopeful place, as they leave to restart their lives without the wolf there.
The illustrations show the angry encounters, but not the physical assaults. The bruises on the little girl’s arm are shown as she explains that she has to wear long sleeves even when it’s hot out. The palette in the book is pale greens and dusty tans. The illustrations show the fear and the trauma of living with an abuser.
An important book that explains abuse to children in a way that shows the abuser in the “bad” wolf in the situation. Appropriate for ages 5-8.
Reviewed from library copy.