Who ever heard of a sheepdog in wolf's clothing? In a delightful twist on the traditional fable, Ella Enchanted author Gail Carson Levine shows that with a little generosity and trust, even the hungriest wolf might not be a bad guy after all.
Newly appointed as shepherd, Betsy promises to be the best one around. But Zimmo, the mountain's last wolf, is ravenous and creates a surefire dinner scheme. Appearing several times and looking deceitful, Zimmo scares poor Betsy into frantically blowing her warning whistle. But when the villagers come running, Zimmo is gone. Eventually, the townsfolk get annoyed with Betsy's cries, and when the wolf pops out to snatch a sheep, they don't show up. Fortunately, though, the clever shepherd has a stash of pies, and she gives some to the famished wolf instead. So grateful to Betsy for her kindness, Zimmo later rescues a few of Betsy's sheep as they near a cliff, and the two form a friendship that results in good herding teamwork.
Children will be howling over Levine's lighthearted tale. Betsy is a spunky heroine whose stick-to-itiveness and quick thinking will have readers in admiration. Scott Nash's (Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp) illustrations are a rollicking complement, adding a wonderfully playful element to the story. Readers won't be sheepish about asking for more of Betsy Who Cried Wolf! (Matt Warner)