In the tradition of Calvin & Hobbes and Dr. Seuss comes a new story of unlikely friendship.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a humongous and hairy giant named Wilfred. Whenever people saw him, they ran away, which made life very lonely for Wilfred. That is, until he found himself in a rather unusual town where one brave little boy saw something special in the timid giant. So begins a story of friendship and sacrifice that will remind readers just how important one voice – no matter how small – can be.
In this moving debut, Ryan Higgins shows his knack for blending humor and heart, and gives Lorax fans an unforgettable new hero.
Displaying a judicious sense of comedy and drama, Higgins (Twaddleton’s Cheese) has crafted a lovely (and hirsute) fable about friendship and sacrifice. Wilfred is the quintessential lonely monster, a “humongous and hairy” creature who comes upon a town where everyone is bald. One brave boy becomes Wilfred’s friend, giving Higgins multiple opportunities to have fun with Wilfred’s athletic, intellectual, and artistic talents. But when the townspeople realize that Wilfred’s shaggy coat could be the solution to yet another winter with freezing pates, they play a nasty trump card: “If he wanted to visit he’d have to stop being big... or to stop being hairy. Since Wilfred couldn’t stop being big... the only thing left for him to do was to stop being hairy.” It takes a blizzard for the townspeople to realize that Wilfred possesses a heart equal to his behemoth stature. Higgins’s distinctively sculptural drawing style—the characters have the dimensional feel and expressive features of puppets—gives the story added emotional weight, and its sense of energy will keep readers turning the pages. Ages 3–5. Agent: Elana Roth, Red Tree Literary. (Mar.)
- Sara Lorimer
Wilfrid is a lonesome, gray, giant, shaggy blob, somewhat resembling an upright sloth, "and the thing that he wanted most of all in the whole wide world was a friend." He comes across a village of people who "didn't have a single hair on their heads." The entire village is bald. Wilfrid eagerly tries to play with the kids but, being the size of a barn, he scares them off — "all except one brave little boy, who said to the big hairy giant, ?SIT!'" Wilfred sits on command. Then stands on one foot on command. Then reenacts the Battle of Waterloo on command. A friendship is made. But the villagers, envious of his fur, trick Wilfred into letting them shear him. He's too cold to go back to play with the boy and goes back to his cave to huddle by his fire. The boy doesn't know why his new friend won't come back and is sad — until he sees the wigs the other people are wearing (for warmth, it's now winter) and realizes they came from Wilfred's hair. The boy knows Wilfred will be freezing and tries to bring him mittens, but he gets lost in the snow... and is saved by Wilfred. The townspeople "felt sorry. This creature wasn't just a big hairy monster. He was a hero and he needed their help." They sew the wigs back together into a hairy suit for Wilfred to wear. "And that's how Wilfred came to have a zipper, a smile, and a very best friend." The story is more coherent than this review makes it sound, and the illustrations are charming. It stands on its own as a sad and funny story, or could be used to start a discussion about friendship and sacrifice. Reviewer: Sara Lorimer
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—In this offbeat story, a lonesome, furry giant visits an unusual town inhabited by people without a "single hair on their heads. Not even the ladies." Wilfred wants a friend, but he scares everyone away except for one brave boy. The odd duo have fun playing the ukulele and reenacting the Battle of Waterloo. With winter approaching, the townspeople hatch a nasty plan to stay warm. They decree that if Wilfred wants to visit, "he'd have to stop being big… or to stop being hairy." Of course, the only way for him to stop being hairy is to let the townsfolk cut off his hair. After spotting new wigs on his neighbors' heads, the boy grows suspicious. A snowstorm heading to Wilfred's cave puts the boy in danger, but the giant protects him. Remorseful, the townspeople sew all of their wigs into a "big hairy suit" for the hero, with a handy zipper down the middle. Wilfred is a gentle, endearing character. Higgins's affecting, digitally enhanced cartoon illustrations show the ostracized, shaven, and shorn creature huddled alone in his cave, warming himself by a fire as the boy races to bring him extra-large mittens made out of blankets. A heartening tale of friendship.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada
Wilfred is big. Wilfred is hairy. Wilfred is lonesome. In this odd little story, Wilfred takes his big, hairy, lonely self to a nearby town where he hopes to make a friend. It turns out that the townspeople he encounters just happen to be bald: "They didn't have a single hair on their heads. Not even the ladies." Unfazed, Wilfred longs to join the bald children in their play, but all except one boy run away from him, and they end up having a great time together. Meanwhile, instead of maintaining fear of the giant, the other people take an interest in him since winter is coming and they want to take his hair to make wigs for themselves. They convince Wilfred he must shave himself in order to maintain his friendship--but now he is too cold to leave his cave. As the story twists and turns through its forced plotline, a now-hairless Wilfred ends up emerging as a hero when he rescues the little boy who initially befriended him. In gratitude, the townspeople remove their wigs and sew them into a large, hairy suit for Wilfred to wear, accepting him into their community. The pen-and-ink illustrations with digital colorization have an appealing cartoonish quality to them, but they can't make up for the lackluster story. Other, stronger picture books about friendship abound. (Picture book. 3-5)