This is a story about a duck and mouse who get swallowed by a wolf, and then decide to live in his belly.
Early one morning a mouse met a wolf
and was quickly gobbled up.
With a nod to traditional fables and a wink to the reader, the award-winning Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen offer a tale of cooperation and creative cuisine that is sure to go down easy.
Barnett's collaborations with Klassen often draw humor from knowledge withheld. Readers giggled because they knew Triangle was up to no good, and they saw the giant diamond that Sam and Dave missed while digging. In this big-hearted, gleeful caper, everyone shares the laughs. A sweet mouse with pink ears encounters a wolf in the forest. He escapes, right? Wrong. The wolf gobbles him up. Which is awful, right? Nope. It's surprisingly comfortable inside the wolf. In fact, a duck is already in residence. "Where did you get jam?" the mouse asks over breakfast. "And a tablecloth?" It's the wolf who suffers. "I feel like I'll burst," he moans, as the mouse and duck feast over a candlelit dinner. When a hunter closes in on the wolf, help comes from an unlikely place (and gives new meaning to the phrase "inner resources"). Klassen trades the spare look of his Hat books for a softer, more painterly style. Much of the action plays out against the warm, walnut brown wash of the wolf's insides; Klassen lingers on the soft grays of fur and feathers. The domestic trappings of the wolf's interior provide laughs (there's a full kitchen and record player, the mouse gets hold of a hockey stick), as do touches of Gallic elegance (the mouse and duck dress for dinner, and there is wine). The story's timeless, fable-like feel is bolstered by its traditional cast and old-fashioned fairy-tale language: "Oh, woe!" cries the wolf. "Oh shame!" Life can turn the tables pretty quickly, Barnett suggests, and only those whose outlooks are flexible will flourish. "I may have been swallowed," says the duck, "but I have no intention of being eaten." A rare treasure of a story, the kind that seems to have been around forever. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
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 JournalCopyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.