September 21, 2017

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The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett | SLJ Review

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redstarBARNETT, Mac. The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse. illus. by Jon Klassen. 40p. Candlewick. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763677541.

K-Gr 2 –When a little mouse gets gobbled up by a hungry wolf, all seems lost until he makes an unexpected friend in the belly of the beast: a duck that may have been swallowed but has “no intention of being eaten.” Indeed, life is not so bad inside the wolf. There’s a comfortable bed, a grand dining room table, and a fully functional chef’s kitchen. As the duck explains to the bewildered mouse, “You’d be surprised what you find inside a wolf.” No longer do these small creatures worry about being devoured; they can sit back and relax in their confinement. They even conspire to get the wolf to down some good wine and cheese. Their wining and dining soon gives their host a terrible stomachache, attracting the attention of a hunter. Suddenly, all three lives are at risk and the new friends must act quickly to save themselves—and their safe and swanky new digs. Barnett’s shrewd wit and subtle sense of irony come across expertly in short, snappy sentences, while the repeated refrain of “Oh woe!” and the pourquoi-tale ending lend the story a folkloric tone. Klassen’s mixed-media art has a collagelike quality; the main characters and set pieces appear as cutouts placed against richly textured backgrounds of deep browns and black, with golden touches of pink and ocher, adding to the sense that readers are watching a dramatic play unfold. VERDICT Reminiscent of classic animal fables, with this winning team’s signature humor and charm, this is a first purchase for any picture book collection.–Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

Kiera Parrott About Kiera Parrott

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for School Library Journal and Library Journal and a former children's librarian. Her favorite books are ones that make her cry—or snort—on public transportation.

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