Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Little Wolf's Book of Badness

Little Wolf's Book of Badness
by Ian Whybrow
Audience:  Early Elementary
2014 Bluestem List
ISBN:  9781572055503
Publication Date:  November 1, 1995

Little Wolf writes letters home as he journeys to his Uncle Bigbad's school of badness and tries to convince his parents to let him come home because he was only be good as a joke.  Little Wolf describes his situation with all of the gloominess of a typical letter from camp.  Once at his uncle's, he finds that the school is in complete disrepair and that his uncle is the very definition of bad.  But, after a chance meeting with a scout master, Little Wolf learns that their might be a better way to live and ends up befriending the scouts instead of being bad.  This is a quick, sweet little book about being yourself.

Little Wolf's adventure reminded me of Little Oink and Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, because you have a character that is acting correctly according to our standards (brushing his teeth, being nice to his brother), but is acting out of turn for his species.  I think that is a lesson that many readers will enjoy.  Especially when it comes to the other scouts.  Instead of getting one badge for badness, Little Wolf can get dozens of badges for more interesting pursuits like climbing and navigating.  Isn't that a better deal?

I also like his messages within the letters to his cousin Yeller (cousin to a wolf?  Maybe Yeller is Ol' Yeller?) and his brother Smellybreath.  I thought those little asides showed that maybe not all of the little wolves out there want to be big and bad.

I am more familiar with Ian Whybrow as a picture book author than a beginning chapter book author, and again, I think this is a book that is better suited for the Monarch List.  The letters are short with plenty of drawings and the action is pretty well suited for beginning elementary.  I would think that most fifth graders would turn their nose at this book, so I don't see it going very far.  I see Little Wolf staying near the back of the Bluestem pack.

But, if you know a strong, independent first or second grade reader, this is a great pick.

Happy Reading!

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