Parents' Guide to

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Quirky and drily witty tale of animals swallowed by wolf.

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Parents looking to mix it up at story time and add some fun, quirky fare need look no further than this book about a resourceful duck and mouse who happily take up residence in a wolf's belly. The premise of The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse has some of the elements of a fairy tale, and author Mac Barnett tinges the language with a classic feel. When the animals scare the hunter off, the text reads, "'Oh woe!' said the hunter. 'Oh death! These woods are full of evil and wraiths!' He fled the forest and never returned." And the end wraps up like a fable: "And that's why the wolf howls at the moon." But the story's shot through with dry humor, as if Barnett's looking at the genre through a wry side-glance. When the wolf feels sick from the ruckus inside, the duck shouts up a remedy: "Eat a hunk of good cheese. And a flagon of wine! And some beeswax candles." Which of course provides the ingredients of that night's feast -- at which the duck toasts, "To the health of the wolf!"

Jon Klassen's textured, mixed-media art has just as much fun with the players, animating them and bringing the detail of their odd world vividly to life. The subtle messages underlying the story -- home is what you make it, friends arrive in the oddest ways, you can use ingenuity to protect yourself -- are all the more powerful delivered in this spirited, imaginative package.

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