Big Wolf and Little Wolf

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Big Wolf and Little Wolf Book Poster Image
Touching friendship tale for kids big and little.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Not only does this story teach a valuable lesson about letting friends into your heart, but it would be a great book for teaching art techniques, especially perspective. When Little Wolf first comes on the scene, he is a tiny blue dot in the distance. As he gets closer, he gets larger.  Also, brush techniques, the use of pencil (or graphite) streaked with paint, small changes in lines of the bodies and in the eyes add such expression and emotion.   

Positive Messages

Though Big Wolf is not too keen on having the Little Wolf move into his life, ultimately he finds his day is not the same without the little guy tagging along -- a perfect lesson for someone who is learning to share his/her world with a younger friend or sibling.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Big Wolf shares his blanket, food, and time with the Little Wolf.  Even though they are a bit uneasy with each other in the beginning, they become friends.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that readers who are OK with wolves climbing trees and eating oranges will enjoy this heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship. This book was originally written and published in French, and has won the Batchelder Award for outstanding translations published in the United States. It does have a sequel called Big Wolf and Little Wolf: The Leaf That Wouldn't Fall.

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What's the story?

Big Wolf likes living under his tree on the hill ... alone. But one day, Little Wolf appears on the scene. Neither is quite sure of the other at first, and when Little Wolf begins following Big Wolf and doing whatever he does, Big Wolf feels a bit threatened. However, they become used to each other, and all is fine -- that is until Little Wolf disappears almost as quickly as he had come. Big Wolf is miserable as he waits and worries. Will his life ever be the same again? Will Little Wolf ever return? Big Wolf decides that having a friend, even a little one, was worth all the chances he had taken. And then one day he sees a small dot coming over the hill.

Is it any good?

Kids of all ages will connect with this book, both for its message and its illustrations.  Who hasn't felt like Big Wolf at times? Apprehensive when a new face appears in a place that has felt so comfortably yours?  Whether the new face belongs to a new classmate or a new child in the family, it can be an unsettling experience.  Or, perhaps you have felt like Little Wolf -- new to a place and not quite sure how to fit in. This book tells it both ways, and not just in words. The beautifully simple yet expressive artwork adds another layer to the emotion of the story. Just by the way the wolves stand or sit, and the way their eyes shift, the reader can tell exactly what they are feeling. 

The artwork in this book is unique, and beautifully expressive. The painted backgrounds are colorful, almost exquisite, with yellow fields dotted here and there with red poppies, the large trunked tree against the blue sky, the night scene looking icy and cold.  And each character, done in pencil and/or paint, is simply drawn, with eyes and postures that let the reader know exactly what each is feeling. Big Wolf is done in pencil or graphite lines almost scribbled over the painted background, while Little Wolf is painted in a solid bright blue. With their pointy noses and long sweeping tails, they are wolves that don't exactly look like wolves, at least not in the scary sense. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the friendship story. How did Big Wolf feel when Little Wolf walked over to his tree for the first time? Why? What made him feel that way? Have you ever felt that way when someone new came to your class? Even your family? How did the Big Wolf feel when Little Wolf didn't come back? What changed the way he felt?

  • Why do you think the artist drew the wolves with long pointy snouts and tall skinny bodies? Why did he draw the Big Wolf with scribbly black pencil lines and then paint Little Wolf with blue paint? Notice their eyes. How do they change to show how the wolves are feeling? Why did the artist show Little Wolf as a small blue dot when he is first coming over the hill?

  • Do you think wolves can really climb trees? Do they eat oranges? Would they ever sleep under a blanket of leaves like the one in the book? What else can you find that makes these wolves different from real wolves?

Book details

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