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
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
This is a poignant story about a young boy who is afraid to go out of his home because he sees monsters everywhere. He has one friend called Mrs. Radinski. He tells her about his fears, but she always tells him there are no woolvs and that he should venture out of his apartment and go back to skool. When he is looking out his window, he sees what he thinks is a blue sky. This blue sky lures him out of the apartment and something starts crawling toward him. Mrs. Radinski saves him and holds him tightly in her arms. His friend disappears and he cannot find her. The ending sends a good message to the reader but also leaves the reader with an unanswered question. I believe the author tried to write much of this in phonetic spelling but never indicated long and short sounds or any other sounds. The author also uses incorrect grammar, for example, "I ranssaks the cubords, grabs a bag, stuffies in warm clothing, tinned food, matchis, a torch. Before I leeves, I scrasis a messij in the dust. "I've gon looking for yoo. Yor fred Ben." This makes a great distraction when reading the book and it would be extremely difficult to read aloud. I do not understand why the author felt it necessary to deliberately use this spelling and include incorrect grammar. The illustrations are excellent as is the theme of the story. I have very mixed reviews for this book, as once I figured how to read it and reread it many times, I finally could say I enjoyed it, but I do not think a person should have to reread to figure out a word. It really is most difficult to read. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Reading the text of Woolvs in the Sitee is the first difficulty presented by this initially frightening, then possibly hopeful story. Our narrator Ben spells phonetically, almost demanding that his story be read aloud. The tale he tells warns of the "woolvs" who are coming for everyone. "No one is spared." Ben is fearful, hiding and longing for "bloo skys" and "rane." The horror of his situation grows. Upstairs, kind Missus Radinski offers water and advice; she refuses to heed Ben's warnings. When she disappears, Ben finally decides he will no longer let the "woolvs forse me to scrooch." He leaves, then asks, "Joyn me." The dark emotions of the text are reinforced by Spudvilas's use of deep hues and black, shaping recognizable characters but placing them in vague settings. Sometimes, the mixed media appear smeared across the double pages; sometimes, rapid strokes define the space. There is a naturalistic portrait of Ben looming from a black background but lit in a vivid red and a mysterious floating candle's frame. Missus Radinski is sketched as if from life. Ben's world is a grim cityscape devoid of other humans. Hope finally overcomes fearor is it just despair? A book to ponder.
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.