One of the finest moments of a recent library storytime is when I had a room full of little kids howling like wolves. I had read them Keiko Kasza’s The Dog Who Cried Wolf, a delightful story about a dog named Moka who runs away from home to experience the glamour of being a wolf for a day. He wants to run through the forest, pee everywhere, and, of course, howl at the moon. During the story, I paused to let the kids howl like Moka. Their howling was sweet and so earnest!
Fables and Fairy Tales
I decided to put together a list of some favorite wolf storybooks. There are the classic fairy tales and fables: The Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and Little Red Riding Hood, to name a few. But usually the wolf has a pretty bad reputation in those stories--he huffs and puffs, deceives children, scares sheep, and commits other misdeeds.
But what about all the good wolves out there? Who’s speaking up on their behalf? There are a lot of picture book authors who present wolves in a positive light, one of the most famous being Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, a defense presented from the wolf’s point of view.
List of Books
Here are a few more books featuring friendly wolves.
It’s So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House by Harry Allard; Pictures by James Marshall – Can bad wolves redeem themselves? Old Man and his old dog, even older cat, and positively ancient fish hire a wolf (disguised as a “German Shepard”) to help them run the household. Wolf turns out to be a most “charming companion.” But when they find out he’s not only a wolf, but more dreadfully, a notorious bank robber, they must decide if they can continue their close relationship. Wonderful humor from the author-illustrator team who brought us the Miss Nelson Is Missing series.
The Eyes of Gray Wolf by Jonathan London – What do wolves do at night? This book takes us on a journey with a grey wolf as he explores a snowy moonlit night. He hunts, howls at the moon, and encounters an intriguing white wolf. Realistic illustrations and endnotes about wolf preservation round out this lovely book.
Let’s Play in the Forest While the Wolf Is Not Around! By Claudia Rueda – It’s all fun and games until wolf enters the forest. This book—based on a traditional French and Spanish children’s song—depicts Red Riding Hood and a group of forest animals frolicking freely, but always staying safe by calling aloud “Wolf, are you there?” Wolf is so busy getting dressed (starting with his underpants, of course) that it takes him forever to finally give them the feared response: “Yes, and I am very hungry!” What exactly he’s hungry for is slowly revealed, creating a suspenseful and satisfying ending.
Wolf Won’t Bite! By Emily Gravett – How much embarrassment will a docile wolf stand for before he decides to bite? Three circus pigs catch a wild wolf and make him perform various Big Top routines, such as jumping through hoops, balancing on a stool, and being shot out of a cannon. He’s even sawn in half during a magic trick! Yet despite all this, wolf won’t bite. That is, until he’s pushed too far. Exaggerated, whimsical illustrations make the action come alive.
Walter the Wolf by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat with Pictures by Kelly Oechsli – A sly fox tries rope a pacifist young wolf into the “biting business.” Walter the wolf is a perfect wolf—he practices violin, listens to his mother, and never ever uses his fangs on animals or people. But then Wyatt the Fox enters the scene and tries to corrupt Walter. His scheme almost works—until Walter realizes he’s not suited to biting—nor being a perfect wolf. A very funny classic!
Wolf Fact Books
If you want to learn more about the way dogs evolved from wolves, check out Dogs: The Wolf Within.
Karen Choy is the Youth Services Librarian in Half Moon Bay. She thinks howling is pretty cool and loves the song "Li'l Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.