Book: When a Wolf is Hungry
Author: Christine Naumann-Villemin
Illustrator: Kris Di Giacomo
Age Range: 4-8
When a Wolf is Hungry was originally published in France, and maintains a certain French tone, I think. Written by Christine Naumann-Villemin and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, it's the story of lone wolf Edmond Bigsnout, who leaves his home in the wood because he has "a hankering for some rabbit." Specifically, a city bunny. He finds an apartment building in which dwells such a rabbit. However, when he accidentally leaves his knife in the elevator, another resident borrows it. After that, the wolf keeps going home for different implements with which to kill or cook the bunny, but he keeps running into building residents who borrow them. By the end of the book, Edmond is very hungry, but won over by the kindness of the residents who, we just know, are gong to become his neighbors.
Naumann-Villemin's text is humorous, with a dark slant. Like this:
"In no time at all, Edmond was back.
The bear from the fourth floor!
"Good day, sir! Are you our new neighbor?"
"No ... uh ... I mean ... yes ..." said the wolf, lying through is teeth.
"Welcome to the building! My, that's a nice chainsaw you have there. What did you need it for?"
"To slice a rab ... uh ... to trim my ..."
"Would you mind terribly if I borrowed it until this evening? I have a hedge to trim on the roof."
"Not at all..."
Di Giacomo's illustrations are also dark in tone, but again with flashes of humor, as when "Miss Eyestopper" bats her eyes at the stammering Edmond. It's not completely clear whether the other animals are actually onto Edmond's scheme, and are deflecting him, or whether they are just rather pushy neighbors, assembling a fun rooftop party.
When a Wolf is Hungry is an entertaining take on the thwarting of the big, bad wolf. Here he's stymied by friendly but presumptuous neighbors, and his own reflexive politeness. This book reminded me in theme of A Well-Mannered Young Wolf by Jean Leroy and Matthieu Maudet, though with a different feel. This book won't be for everyone, but it worked for me, and I think that anyone who likes fractured fairy tales will want to give it a look. Recommended!
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (@ebyrbooks)
Publication Date: August 7, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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