Wolf Comes To Town must be one of the most underrated children’s book on the Internet. I was genuinely astonished to check out what others have said about this picturebook on Amazon and Goodreads. Both sites show a 1.5 star average rating at time of writing. Can you guess what reviewers don’t like about this book?
A. The story is poorly written and edited.
B. The illustrations are amateurish.
C. Not suitable for children due to the main character behaving badly and not going punished.
The history of this story is summed up neatly by Angela Slatter:
It’s been an interesting journey for Little Red Riding Hood. She started life in a tribal tale about a girl who outsmarts a wolf – all on her own, no outside help. A few centuries later, she gets a red cap, loses about twenty IQ points and gets eaten by a transvestite wolf. Add another hundred or so years, the cap becomes a hood, she loses a few more brain credits, gets molested, and then eaten by the same cross-dressing wolf but is rescued by a big, strong man and learns never to disobey the rules again. Adding insult to injury, in the 40s Tex Avery turned her into a stripper. Bruno Bettelheim looked at Gustave Dore’s 1867 Little Red Riding Hood illustrations and saw dirty pictures – Little Red in bed with the wolf, giving him the eye. A red leather-jacketed Reese Witherspoon (oh, puhleeez!) played her in an Eighties film version, Freeway, in which a friendly neighbourhood serial killer fulfils the role of the wolf. Just when you thought it was all over, Angela Carter came along, reclaimed her and set her free.
The following are notes from:
LRRH wasn’t always a children’s story. It’s a truth seldom acknowledged that fairy tales used to be for everyone. It’s anachronistic to even speak of ‘the child’ before a certain point in history, because the concept did not exist. There were babies, then there were people, sent out to work at the earliest opportunity.
Perhaps you know a little person who absolutely love bears. I know one of those. She loves stories about bears. Fortunately they are in no short supply. Here are some we have read lately.
In this story, a bear is kept in a cage to perform tricks and basically be an exhibit. But one night the bear escapes, scares away the villagers and climbs up a pole into the sky, and flies away.
The message is obviously one about keeping animals in captivity (don’t), and I wonder if there are bigger themes in here as well, about reaching for the sky.
I almost always hate when pets are described in books. Unless they’re like Vincent from Lost & integral to plot, I prefer to ignore them. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up w/ pets, but I mean – everyone likes their pet & they’re all the same, so why bother pointing them out? It’s like “flowers are pretty” or “babies love their mother.” It can go w/out saying. Pets are either annoying or cute. Not a lot going on. People who had pets: I know you disagree w/ me. Stop yelling Like I said, I didn’t have them. Pets = background furniture to me. Whatevs!
I look into the dog’s eyes. She is as stupid as a barrel of toes. Galaxies of nothing are going on in her eyes. I get up. ‘I’m going to talk to Mum,’ I explain. The dog remains under my bed, as always, deeply nervous about being a dog.
– Caitlin Moran, How To Be A Woman
Hey, dog people, of all the possible verbs you could have chosen, why do you “express” anal glands?
Lady: My Life as a Bitch (2001)
Melvin Burgess, Puffin, 208pp, 978-0141310282, O/P
A funny, poignant tale about a 17-year-old girl and her relationship with sexual desire. When Sandra turns into a dog, a world of extremes opens to her. The excited fascination with sex that had led her into conflict with adults when she was a human (although it was legal) is now expected behaviour. The message is that sex can be fun but that compulsive promiscuity is not a wise lifestyle choice and even dogs might not be allowed to enjoy it for long. Thoughtful readers will enjoy the canine debate on what it means to be human, and note that Sandra is becoming “sensible” without adults’ intervention before her dog life even starts.
My favourite dog book as a child was Shadow The Sheep Dog by Enid Blyton.
I have not actually read the above book but it looks great.
So does this one.
What were your favourite childhood books? Were any of them about cats? Mine was Katie the Kitten, a miniature version of a Little Golden Book. Honestly, I think it was the smaller size of the book that attracted me to it, as I was obsessed with small things.
Catwoman with every fictional cat ever, from The Mary Sue
Book Reviews: Cat Tales from Reading Today Online
Why Cats Are Ousting Dogs In Literature from The Telegraph
Kate de Goldi discusses Z Is For Moose on Radio New Zealand and has trouble not laughing. (This is what made me buy the book.)
There is something inherently funny about a moose. Is it the bulbous snout, or the slightly onomatopoeic name? (I’m not sure what real-world sound the word ‘moose’ makes, but it should, shouldn’t it?)
See also: Inherently Funny Animals in which the moose is still the funniest, precisely because there’s no reason for him to be.
Dialogue in fiction should be reserved for the culminating moments and regarded as the spray into which the great wave of narrative breaks in curving toward the watcher on the shore.
As wonderful as that quote is, for a more practical overview of dialogue mechanics, see chapter 5 of ‘Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to edit yourself into print’ by Renni Browne and Dave King.
Here is a summary:
There is plenty of room for poetic licence in fiction but when it comes to punctuating and attributing dialogue, there are rules. First, some technical terms…
Hear the story read by Douglass Greene at Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.
This is my favourite story from the excellent collection Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives. This is partly due to how much I relate to the characters; when our daughter was 5 some new neighbours moved in next door. They were very unfriendly, but had two sons who were overly friendly. They would invite our daughter next door, but oftentimes she came back subdued, and once, crying. I never knew what happened next door, but I did learn more and more about the family, and had to stop my daughter from going over there. When you’re the parent of a child between around 4-8, it’s difficult to discern fact from fiction; children so often live in their own worlds. The People Across The Canyon encapsulates that confusion most beautifully.