This offering from Belgian author/illustrator Ramos is a single, drawn-out joke, but achieves keeper status with intelligent dialogue and Gallic sophistication. A megalomaniacal wolf strolls through the forest buttonholing fairy tale creatures and asking them to burnish his ego. "My dear, how well that crimson suits you," he says to Little Red Riding Hood. "Tell me, my little strawberry, who's the strongest in the woods?" "Oh, you are, absolutely," she replies alertly. When he's not asking for ego strokes, he's musing to himself as he walks through the forest: " 'Oh, it's so good to be me!' he said, breathing in the scents of oak and mushroom." Ramos's thickly brushed paintings alternate between woodland scenes suggestive of stage scenery and closer shots of the wolf and other creatures against white backdrops, the better to appreciate the comic tension. A small "toad of some sort" breaks the pattern of predictable answers: its mother (a dragon) is the strongest creature in the forest, it says. The wolf's comeuppance is deeply satisfying; the only disappointment is that the book is over so soon. Better read it again. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The wolf glaring at us from the book cover, paws on hips, obviously is fearless. One day he takes a walk in the woods, hoping to discover what others there think of him. A very small rabbit looks up at the wolf and assures him that he is absolutely the strongest one around. This response pleases him. Next, the wolf meets Little Red Riding Hood. Looming above her, he asks who is the strongest in the woods. After being reassured by her of his strength, the wolf encounters and queries the three little pigs. They declare him the strongest, toughest, and handsomest. Flexing his muscles, the delighted wolf declares, "They're all scared to death of me. I'm the King!" When he meets the seven dwarfs, they agree. But then he encounters "a little toad of some sort," who tells him that his mother is the strongest. The ending is both a great surprise and a lesson for the overconfident. The wolf, roughly painted in black and white, strides aggressively through the woods and across the double-page spreads with bared teeth. His dialog with the traditional characters adds to the fun. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—A modern fable about bullying and the folly of pride. The Big Bad Wolf knows that he is the strongest animal in the forest, and he wants all of the other creatures to acknowledge his superiority. He asks each one who is the strongest, and all, terrified, answer, "Oh, you are, Mister Wolf." He finally meets his match when he encounters a small green "toad of some sort." When he sees the baby dragon's towering mother, he realizes that he is not really the strongest and sneaks away. Although the text is short and the plot is simple, Anderson includes some fairly advanced vocabulary and expressions that will probably be unfamiliar to the target audience, such as "Heigh-ho" and "Gumboil." The text is printed in large, legible font, sometimes on top of full-page illustrations, and sometimes on white space between. The pictures are done with Ramos's characteristically bold strokes, and the bright colors are applied thickly. Ramos's amazingly expressive characters show at first glance how each creature is feeling. The well-crafted illustrations make the book worth purchasing.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
A…story…with…excellent illustration, great humor and refreshingly stylish text…The Big Bad Wolf may still be a source of childhood fear, but he's ever so entertaining.
—The New York Times