Review Blog

Nov 13 2017

The wolf, the duck and the mouse by Mac Barnett

cover image

Ill. by Jon Klassen. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406377798
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Animals, Survival, Interdependence. When the wolf eats the mouse he finds in the forest, he is at a loss as to understand what is going on in his stomach. The mouse finds a duck in its bed inside the stomach and on enquiring finds that the duck lives there quite peacefully, safe from any nasty things which may want to eat him outside. After all, he may have been swallowed but he has no intention of being eaten. Together the two have breakfast and mouse asks if he can stay. Life looks quite good. When their rousing keeps the wolf awake, they ask for more things, some wine and candles to celebrate their companionship. Wolf obliges but when he falls down through the pain in his stomach he is seen by a hunter who fires at him.
The mouse and the duck realise that they must do something to keep the wolf safe, after all their lives depend upon his safety.
With all the hallmarks of a fable, the wolf learns that the three are dependent upon each other for their survival. The duck and the mouse cleverly work out how to live without fear and the wolf must put up with the occasional rumble in his stomach to have them help him in return.
The illustrations are glorious, a mix of media presents the sepia colours of the forest and the animals. An occasional bright spot of colour appears in the dark of the stomach with a tablecloth contrasting with the gloom, and the check of the hunter's shirt standing out against the muted shades of the forest. I loved looking at the small details contained within the stomach, laughing out loud at the situation of a wolf swallowing a variety of things to keep his guests happy.
Their interdependence will intrigue younger readers and they will laugh at the situation where the wolf must go to great lengths to survive.
Fran Knight

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