by John Rocco
Hyperion Books for Children
This is a sly little take on the Aesop fable about the boy who cried “wolf!” But Rocco turns the tables here, making the wolf — not the boy — center stage. And he places the characters in a pastoral Chinese setting (”Under a canopy of wind-swept trees and cherry blossoms, the wolf sports a Chinese silk jacket of the type seen in old Fu Manchu movies, the boy wears a topknot, and the neighbors who complain about the boy’s false cries sport queues and silk caps,” Publishers Weekly’s review points out).
Rocco’s striking wolf is old, arthritic. He’s too worn out and slow to chase animals and catch and consume birds (his jacket is adorned with the traditional Chinese symbol for longevity), so he attempts to grow his own food in a garden. Alas and alack, this doesn’t go too well (too many weeds). Fumbling with his hysterically primitive hearing aid one day, he hears the titular character of the classic Aesop story crying “WOLF! WOLF!” He creaks his way up the mountain in all his confusion (”the old wolf didn’t have any friends on any mountain,” so he’s not quite sure who’s calling for him). A LOVELY double page spread, wordless, of the wolf crossing a footbridge in a gorgeous spot of the wood, rife with cherry blossoms, follows. Loveliness, loveliness, I tell ya. I know I use that word entirely too much, but Rocco smacks us upside the head with The Lovely. It’s a smorgasbord for the eyes. Sit down and take a bite. It’s almost breathtaking in spots. Read the rest of this entry �