What a gem!
What a find!
What a smashing read-aloud!
If you take up this 1947 book about a father, his smart five-year old son Michael and Michael's best friend Stefan ... well, you won't be able to put it down.
This is an example of a book that simply yearns to be read aloud.
It works really well as a children's book for silent reading, but it truly sparkles as a read-aloud!
This fabulous addition to the New York Review Children's Collection simply scores on all fronts.
Here we have an enthralling story, within a witty yarn and both of them progress hand in hand until a charming conclusion.
Anything Can Happen In A StoryA boy's story is the best that is ever told.
"Once upon a time a man was putting his boy to bed and the boy asked for a story."
The man tries to save himself by retelling Goldilocks, but, of course, this attempt is rejected immediately by his son.
"No, no," said the boy. "A new story."
Once again the father fails in his attempts to conjure up a story with harmless animals, because his persistent little son rejects all attempts to keep the fierce wolf out ... and a Wolf Story it is.
"All right," the father gives in.
"A terribly fierce wolf with red eyes and teeth as long and sharp as butcher knives."
"Mmmmmmm," says the boy, resting his cheek on his pillow.
"I suppose you like that about the butcher knives."
"I love it," says the boy. ‘Go on.’
What follows is a double strand of complementing stories that intertwine all the way over the course of several days.
One moment we are reading about Michael, Stefan and Michael's dad (how they go together to Fort Tryon Park, swim at Jones Beach, wait until the car is fixed in the garage...) and the other moment we are reading about cunning wolf Waldo and his plans to capture Rainbow the hen, while trying to avoid discovery by the hen's owners - the Tractorwheel family.
The book is a rambuctious read-aloud that will turn on all the synapses in children's brains, as they try follow the lifelike story-in-a-story. And it wasn't only my kids who howled with laughter while listening to the book.
In addition to laughing, my kids were enthralled with the realistic story-telling and the matter-of-fact tone that made it very accessible. In fact, the book was so captivating that we read it in two days .. with my twins positively enthralled all throughout.
The humor is so lightweight and pervasive making the Wolf Story one of the top read-alouds in our library.
"I don't want to make it too scary," said Michael's father.
"Yes!" cried the boys. "Make it too scary! Horribly, horribly scary."
"Time out," said Michael's father. "My voice is tired."
"Here," said Stefan, and handed him a fruit drop.
The book's author William McCleery was a Broadway playwright, which goes a long way to explaining why this book reads aloud so well.
Treat your kids and yourself to a couple of nights of much needed family warmth and worldly humor.
They simply don't write books like this any more.
Wolf Story is available from bookstores in the US, Canada and UK:
- Author: William McCleery
- Illustrator: Warren Chappell
- Pages: 88 pages
- Publisher: New York Review Children's Collection
- ISBN-13: 9781590175897
- Source: Purchased by Read Aloud Dad
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