Big Bad Wolves at School


Rufus doesn't like school at first. He loves being a wolf and doing wolf stuff — like running through the woods or howling at the moon. But Rufus, like all wolves, must go to school to learn real wolf work, like wearing clever disguises and speaking sheep.

While Rufus learns, he also teaches: Sometimes ou have to cut loose and learn to be yourself!

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Rufus doesn't like school at first. He loves being a wolf and doing wolf stuff — like running through the woods or howling at the moon. But Rufus, like all wolves, must go to school to learn real wolf work, like wearing clever disguises and speaking sheep.

While Rufus learns, he also teaches: Sometimes ou have to cut loose and learn to be yourself!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When a carefree, nature-loving wolf named Rufus is sent to boarding school boot camp to learn the ways of the big and the bad, the results are expectedly comical. Hoping to toughen up their young free spirit, Rufus's parents send him to the Big Bad Wolf Academy. Much of the humor is found in Sneed's (The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians) whimsical watercolors of Rufus's days there. At the huffing and puffing range, he lazily blows dandelion seeds instead of blowing over wooden cut-outs of the Three Little Pigs in their houses, labeled respectively as "Breezy," "Gusty" and "Gale!" Study questions include "Which is easier to wear-a nightgown or pajamas?"; in an especially hilarious spread, the wolves line up in their best grandmotherly disguises, adorned with matronly wigs, bedclothes and fuzzy slippers. Readers familiar with wolf fables will best appreciate the story's comedy, but all will cheer when Rufus's innate Canis lupustraits save the day. While the shaggy-headed wolf may appear to be a bored slacker in class-in one scene he has a pencil up his nose-the reason for his seemingly impertinent behavior rests in misunderstandings and mismatched priorities. Krensky's (Too Many Leprechauns) message seems to be that results are best when "wolves" are allowed to be themselves. Ages 4-8. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Young Rufus's wolf parents are concerned about his carefree life. To teach him survival, they send him to the Big Bad Wolf Academy, "the toughest school around." Throughout the rough training in huffing and puffing, in disguising as grandmother, in pretending to be sheep, Rufus refuses to get involved. He misses his running and howling at the moon. When it comes time to study for finals, Rufus finds "better things to do." But during testing, when hunters arrive, all their training does not save the wolves. It is Rufus's primitive howl, joined by the others, that saves them all. Our introduction to Rufus on the cover—looking bored at his desk, with pencils up his nose, backed by an indignant teacher—sets up the comedy. Sneed uses opaque watercolors to create the headmaster in a crested blazer, the young eager wolf students, and their lessons-training for their fairy-tale adventures. Rufus is the star, a cocky character as ready to dance or inspect a butterfly as to howl at the moon. The antic action is shown in vignettes and on single and double pages with just enough scenery. The lesson on education is there amid the fun.
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3
When his parents fear that Rufus will not make it in the cold, cruel world, they enroll him in the Big Bad Wolf Academy to learn huffing and puffing, the art of disguise, and sheep as a foreign language. Poor Rufus doesn't fit in with the other students, who practice being wolves in sheep's clothing and debate the best way to enter a henhouse. On moonlit nights and sunny days, he finds better things to do than prepare for exams. Yet when the hunters come, he saves everyone by doing what wolves do best and graduates with a special medal. Sneed's watercolors of lean, lanky, yellow-eyed creatures give the story a slightly sinister dimension, and the contrast between the posturing wolves at the academy and Rufus's more naturalistic poses is striking. While they walk on two feet, Rufus is usually shown on all four and looks out of his element at his desk or in costume. Krensky's tale cleverly points out the limitations of storybook wolves and the advantages of being true to one's own nature. This story pairs well with the many fairy tales that feature wolves as villains.
—Mary Jean SmithCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
A lupine black sheep if ever there was one, Rufus blows off all of his classwork at Big Bad Wolf Academy to lounge in the meadows, howl at the moon and generally fool around. However, he earns a special award at graduation by driving off a crew of hunters, then gets all of his classmates to "put away their lessons" in sheep language, dressing as grannies and the like to be wild wolves again-except at Halloween, when a little skill at disguises comes in handy for trick-or-treating. Sneed illustrates this unabashedly subversive episode with scenes of sinuous, feral-looking wolves comically attired in human dress or, in Rufus's case, jumping rope with small woodland buddies and sticking pencils up his nose. His unshakeable self-confidence echoes that of the budding florist in Marie-Odile Judes's Max, the Stubborn Little Wolf (2001), and makes for an amusing contrast to the wimpy wallflower in Delphine Perret's The Big Bad Wolf and Me (2006). (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689837999
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Edition description: Repackage
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,430,870
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD480L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Krensky is the author of more than a hundred books for children, including How Santa Got His Job (an ALA Notable Book) and Big Bad Wolves at School. He and his wife, Joan, live in Lexington, Massachusetts. You can visit him at

Brad Sneed is the popular illustrator of many picture books for children, including Deputy Harvey and the Ant Cow Caper, which received a starred review; Grandpa's Song; I Heard Said the Bird; Thumbelina; and Aesop's Fables. He lives with his wife, Dena, and their daughter in Prairie Village, Kansas. You can visit him on the internet at

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