32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
There once was a rabbit whose name was Grey
And he went to the woods to pick berries one day.
With a basket in had he skipped along
As he skipped down the path, he sang this song.
“I must stick to the path, I must stay on the trail.
I must always look out for the BIG BUSHY TAIL.’
But Grey is so busy looking for the big bushy tail he forgets to look for the wolf’s other bits – his knees, his snout and his feet!
This is a catchy story-in-rhyme that will entertain and engage young readers as they follow Grey through the woods and try to spot the wolf and warn the carefree rabbit that there is danger nearby. Wolves, woods and vulnerable creatures have been the source of children’s stories since the days of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs and there seems to be no end to their mean, sneaky, cunning ways. Very young readers soon learn that if there is a wolf in the story then that means trouble for the hero and they will delight in trying to spot Blue in the colourful, detailed pictures and shout out the warnings to Grey, just as the narrator does. Tension rises when a knife and fork are spotted and the wolf’s intention is made very clear.
Young children love stories where the hero and villain are obvious, they can take sides to cheer them on, warn them of danger and celebrate when good triumphs over evil – especially when it comes in a superbly-crafted surprise ending as it does in this story. Older minds might question whether the wolf was just doing what wolves do, and through an examination of similar tales, investigate whether wolves deserve the bad rap they have but younger ones will just love the way they can interact and enjoy this rollicking story-in-rhyme.
The greatest gift we can give our little ones is the pleasure and wonderment of story through engaging plots, stunning illustrations and a joyful use of language. Wolfish Stew meets all those criteria.