PreS-Gr 2-Even very young children know that wolves are "bad" in stories, and this one plays to that knowledge. The animals ask the title question loudly and move a little bit closer to Grandma's house in the forest as she answers ominously. She brushes her big teeth, scrubs out the very big stew pot, sharpens her big axe to chop firewood, and is clearly getting ready to cook. As a tiny duckling creeps into the house, the group asks the question once again, and Grandma Wolf raises her paws with a sharp knife and fork and shouts, "It's-dinnertime!" Young readers will shriek the first time but a page turn shows the animals all settling down to vegetable stew while Grandma Wolf reads a favorite story, "Little Red Riding Hood." Watercolors contrast the wide-eyed baby animals with the fiercely toothed Grandma but the safely scary story will not alarm anyone after the first reading. The pictures are crowded with bubbles, swirls, clouds, and details, making them difficult to see at a storyhour distance. The author based his story on a British game that's not well known in this country and directions on the jacket flap explain how to play it. Good fun.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Suspense looms in the air as young woodland creatures get closer and closer to big bad Grandma Wolf until it looks like their collective gooses may be cooked. Word spreads in the forest (a very lovely and lush forest as portrayed in Brown's watercolors) that a bad old hairy wolf is living nearby. A company of animals puts aside their trepidation and goes to investigate. From outside the wolf's house, they can see her asleep in her bed. Piglet calls out, "What's the time, Grandma Wolf?" She replies that it's time to get up. Each creature in turn asks the time, and each time they take a step closer to the wolf, as she scrubs the cooking pot, fetches water, sets it to boil, until finally they are very close and Grandma Wolf cries out, "Dinnertime!" The animals stand frozen, like fawns caught in the beam of a headlight, but Grandma's only ready to serve them a vegetable stew and read them a story-guess which one. Young readers will feel a note of pleasing apprehension-mostly from Grandma's rack of conspicuous fangs-but never enough to stir terror. The repetitions may even provoke readers to chime in, and Brown ("The Scarecrow's Hat", p. 179, etc.) has provided the rules for a game-"What's the Time, Mr. Wolf?"-that kids can play on their own. "(Picture book. 2-5)"