For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews books I’ve read here and there. While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again…
This week, we’re giving one of our “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015” the V.I.P. treatment-
WOLFIE The Bunny
by Ame Dyckman
Illustrated by Zachariah O’Hora
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers [@littlebrown]
Pub. Date: February 17th, 2015
Few words can strike such sharp, striking, and varying emotions in people.
It’s bad enough having to deal with a drooling tag-along kid brother or sister invading your space, messing with your stuff, and hogging your parents attention with seemingly no end in sight!
(Which depending on your age, and family dynamic, may be a drawback, or a plus…)
But I’m guessing that on top of all that, you at least didn’t have the underlying concern of being EATEN by your tag-along sibling!
That’s where “Wolfie The Bunny” comes in.
No sooner do Mama and Papa bunny discover an abandoned wolf pup at their doorstep, they don’t hesitate to take him in as their own, but Dot’s FAR from convinced this is a good idea, he’s a WOLF for bunny’s sake!
Do her folks not realize what wolves eat!?
Sure, they’ll start out with milk or formula, but it’s only a matter of time before they crave meat.
From Chicken soup, to beef stew, lamb chops, and yes, even rabbit in mustard sauce…
But it seems Wolfie’s taken to veggies, especially carrots (of course), which is not the least surprising to his vegetarian mom and dad, but Dot’s certain this diet quirk won’t last long.
Eventually, Wolfie grows from a tiny pup, to becoming the biggest member of the household, which only makes Dot all the more anxious.
It’s hard enough being a big sister, even harder when your kid brother is now WAY BIGGER than you, and could give into his predatory instincts at any time.
But the only thing predatory about Wolfie is ever vigilant “stalking” Dot everywhere she goes.
Not to eat her, but simply to be near his lagomorph sister in that annoyingly clingy, yet sometimes endearing way little kids follow the big kids, even though in Wolfie’s case, he’s the bigger one!
When Dot runs an errand to the grocery store (reluctantly bringing Wolfie along) the inter-species sibling duo encounter one bully of a bear.
It’s at this point the tables turn, and Dot begins to realize that while Wolfie may look big and scary to her on the outside, he’s still a pup on the inside, who needs a big sister like her who despite her size, doesn’t scare easily.
Even when going up against a bear of a bully bigger than both of them.
Those of you with siblings will especially find much humor and solace, whether you were the older sibling whose aptitude for patience runs only so deep, or you were the “baby” of the family who always wanted your older sibling’s cool cred.
Being an only child from a emotionally distant family, I still have tales of cousins who could drive me as crazy as if they were my siblings, only I was the “Wolfie” in those scenarios, but I never had a sister like Dot looking out for me, so he’s got an edge I didn’t have growing up.
Author Ame Dyckman uses spare text and punchy vocabulary that flows with the illustrations, creating that “magic of words and pictures” all picture books strive for.
Zachariah O’Hora’s illustrations have this ability to look modern and classic at the same time, yet have this edge to them which I’d describe as “Punk Lucy Cousins” with some splashes of Dick Bruna’s simple use of shapes, with a ’60s retro color palate that give this book a style all its own.
A stark contrast from the hipper, slightly ’40s inspired look in his solo outing “No fits, Nelson!”
Those who parrot the common saying, “Times change, people don’t” be thankful you’re not near me when you say that…
Just like with many things in life, families HAVE CHANGED, and evolved, from the hyper-idealized two parents, 2.5 kids and maybe a pet or two.
I’m certainly not criticizing if you have such a family, of course, but families today can and do come in so many forms, and while we often “glorify” the deadbeat/dysfunctional families that have become media icons, we could stand to see more realistic and HAPPIER families in fiction.
Despite the old adage that happy families don’t make for good stories, take the “Swiss Family Robinson” for instance.
They had a heralding adventure of survival, but they were FAR from the broken families the evening news seems to obsess themselves, and not always for the obvious reasons…
I think with so many kids and teens growing up in less than ideal family dynamics, they need to see more positive portrayals of what they may not get in their own life, while still containing the conflict and stakes good books need.
While lack of non-stereotypical portrayals of ethnicity in children’s books sparked the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement in Spring 2014, what I feel gets lost in that important (and sadly needed) initiative is that diversity isn’t just about race.
It’s also about showing varied portrayals of gender roles and families today, whatever their racial identity, life orientation, or species, given our primary focus on T.A.A.
“Wolfie the Bunny” is one of the books, and most definitely lives up to being one of our “Most Anticipated Reads of 2015.”
“Wolfie the Bunny” trailer
(Created by John Schu/@MrSchuReads)
Also, see “What the Critters Say” about “Wolfie the Bunny”
That’s it for Weekly Readings, check back next time!