Book: The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation
Author: Delphine Perret
Age Range: 4 and up
I'm not quite sure what to make of The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation, but it is definitely entertaining. It's sort of a cross between an early chapter book and a coffee table book, if you can imagine such a thing. Written by Delphine Perret, this book is a sequel to The Big Bad Wolf and Me, published in 2006. In the first book (which I haven't read), the Big Bad Wolf, named Bernard, moves in with a boy and is kept a secret from the boy's family.
In this sequel, Bernard helps the boy, Louis, with his homework and eats a lot of cookies. Bernard also begs to go along on a road trip to the beach with Louis and his grandfather. Disguised, sort of, as a dog, the Big Bad Wolf, Louis, and a tolerant grandpa, do typical road trip things (stopping for lunch, sticking their heads out of the window, pushing cows out of the road, etc.). This is all conveyed via a series of small panels on each page, with a mix of dialog and chapter titles (Chapter 9: Every five minutes, Bernard asked, "Are we THERE yet?") telling the story.
There are running gags about Bernard's sensitivity. He doesn't like being mistaken for a dog, or being seen as not scary, even if he doesn't eat children anymore. But when he successfully chases away a yappy poodle, he is the picture of satisfaction.
The grandfather is delightful, taking everything in stride, with only the slightest bit of teasing. At the end, when Bernard and Louis are both acting too mature to run into the ocean, the grandpa shows them how it's done.
As for Louis, he reminds me quite a lot of Willy from I MUST Have Bobo! He is drawn in a similar minimalist sketch style, with a big smiling mouth and a hint of touseled hair. The wolf, on the other hand, is shown dark brown, with a big, toothy mouth and no visible eyes. He's a bit like a shadow. I wasn't sure at first whether or not Bernard was supposed to be imaginary. But the grandpa, and even a woman working the drive-thru, seem to see him. So I think Perret is playing this straight up.
There's a Calvin and Hobbes feel to the panel-style illustrations, and to the quirky humor. When Bernard tells the grandpa that he's the Big Bad Wolf, grandpa responds that he is the queen of England. Or maybe King Kong. The toll ticket ends up being used as a gum wrapper. Bernard goes foraging in the woods, and comes back with ... chocolate chip cookies from a nearby vending machine.
The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation has 11 brief chapters across 64 pages, with comic-strip style illustrations. It's not quite an early reader, not quite a graphic novel. But it is funny and visually appealing. I still think it could work as a coffee table book. But it's also one that might draw in reluctant new readers (especially boys). It's definitely worth a look. Fans of the first book will certainly not want to miss it.
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books (@SterlingKids)
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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