From the Publisher
* "Semi-phonetic spelling and slashing, ominous art add powerful notes of anxiety and otherness to this eerie psychodrama. . . . Provocative reading." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Shortlisted for three top children’s book prizes in Australia. . . . This stunning title will best succeed with a visually literate audience who, growing up in a world of potential chaos, can read metaphor and appreciate ambiguity." --School Library Journal
From the Gaiman/McKean school of storytelling comes this dystopian picture book, set in a shadowy, depopulated city at an indeterminate time. As in The Wolves in the Walls, paranoia reigns, but the solitary protagonist, Ben, corrects those who mistake his "woolvs" for "luvlee wyld creechis, running in the woods." Judging from a view of barbed wire, a sooty wooden gate and menacing silhouettes, his woolvs are of the two-legged variety. Ben spends his days "scrooched up... in a mustee basement," and readers see his hooded face in candlelit close-ups; his only company is the woman upstairs, who eventually vanishes. He peers out on a sickly sky of roiling rust-orange and gray clouds ("the seesons are topsee-turvee"), and someone paints a trompe-l'oeil "bloo sky with soft wite clouds" on a wall, perhaps to trick him. Wild and Spudevilas, Australian co-creators of Jenny Angel, conjure an atmosphere suggesting widespread surveillance. Writing in the phonetic style of Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker, Wild keeps readers guessing about Ben's (and his society's) immediate history. Spudevilas's rough charcoal sketches of deserted streets and vacant interiors slash the full-bleed spreads, and watercolor washes of sour yellow, blood red and toxic green imply apocalypse. Nevertheless, no "woolvs" appear, and when Ben ventures outside in the closing pages ("Joyn me," he says), the situation remains undeveloped. Wild's fragmentary graphic narrative establishes an ominous mood akin to Gary Crew and Shaun Tan's The Viewer, but reads more as a prequel to a thriller than as a tale in its own right. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal
Shortlisted for three top children's book prizes in Australia, this picture book for older readers is the collaboration of an honored author and illustrator team. In a post-apocalyptic world, a teen protagonist lives alone in a derelict building. Terrified of the outside world and of the "woolvs" he sees there, the boy is tempted out of his apartment by what he misapprehends as a glimpse of blue sky. He is rescued by his only friend, elderly Mrs. Radinski, who ventures into the dark streets to save him. When the woman later disappears, the boy must reach deep for the courage to go looking for her. Every creative decision succeeds in making this a disorienting and harrowing story. Presentation of powerful themes is singular, the seemingly scrawled text being entirely phonetic with occasional invented words. The jarring reading experience, which readers will have to pore over, heightens the impression of a brutal, off-kilter world. Intensity is further magnified by Spudvilas's visual interpretation of the boy's world in heavy, aggressive charcoal line and watercolor wash, the palette dark with rare splashes of color. The wolves that terrify the boy are never portrayed. In the end, hope can be found in his determination to free himself from the crippling fear that controls his life. A final portrait shows him, brave but vulnerable, addressing readers, issuing the challenge, "Joyn me." This stunning title will best succeed with a visually literate audience who, growing up in a world of potential chaos, can read metaphor and appreciate ambiguity.
Kate McClellandCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.