Books Fractured Fairytales Picture Book Challenge 2011 Picture Books Reading Themes

Can Wolves Ever be Good? Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen

Thanks to Zoe from Playing by the Book and Nadia Shireen for this lovely picture book

I knew when I read Zoe’s interview with Nadia Shireen last month that this picture book would be a wonderful addition to our Fractured Fairy Tale Bimonthly theme for July/August.

I am glad that I was chosen as one of the winners for the giveaway and so we welcome The Good Little Wolf and let’s try to get to know him.

What makes for a Good Little Wolfie? The book begins with a few familiar characters such as Little Red and the extremely famous Three Little Pigs listening intently to a story about a good little wolf named Rolf who was best friends with a blue-haired Granny named Mrs. Boggins.

Everyone listening attentively

This is how our wolf was characterized:

He liked baking tasty cakes.

He ate up all his vegetables.

And he was always nice to his friends.

The Anima and Animus: Big Bad Wolf meets Good Little Wolf. Very strange that this little wolf could be so well-mannered, polite, and … nice. Goes against the grain of everything we know about wolves in storybooks (as Lauren Child has managed to point out to us in our review of her Beware of the Storybook Wolves). It is also what makes this book unique and special.

As this scary big bad wolf has pointed out:

“Real wolves howl at the moon!” hooted the Big Bad Wolf.

“Real wolves blow houses in! Real wolves eat people up!”

I like how this seemingly-simple tale can actually raise a few philosophical conundrum and identity questions/issues to teenagers, older children, young adults. Are you how you behave? Are you defined by what you do? If our good little wolf does not do all these things because he chooses not to do these things, would this make him less of a wolf even though he looks like a wolf, feels like a wolf and smells like a wolf as Big Bad Wolf has meticulously inspected.

So … our good little wolf has an identity crisis?

Can Anyone Ever be Other than Who they Are? This was the thought that was recurrent in my mind as I enjoyed and relished each page of this charming book. When the Big Bad Wolf (a few spoilers here I am afraid) announced that he would stop being bad “first thing tomorrow” – isn’t it in his nature to deceive? To lie? To manipulate people to get what he wants? Must be the psychologist in me talking. Or the cynic, perhaps? For younger kids, it would be nice to introduce such a novel concept: wolves being harmless and kind and eating their veggies dutifully.

A few things that can be raised in a potential discussion among older kids or teenagers though: What makes you who you are? Can there really be a good little wolf? An honest politician? A faithful man? Can people change – and what does it mean: to change? Are you going against your nature if you change? Is this what evolution or growth means: to be better than one’s self? What is “better?” Who defines this? Grab a copy of the book and let’s discuss. =)

PictureBook Challenge Update: 89 of 120

Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen. Jonathan Cape, London, 2011. Book was a giveaway from Zoe in Playing by the Book.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

6 comments on “Can Wolves Ever be Good? Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shireen

  1. Love your review and commentary Myra!


    • Hi Zoe. I’m glad you did. Imagine such a charming picture book raising all these psychological/philosophical questions. That’s why I love children’s lit! =)


  2. Hi Myra! It really is surprising to find such depth in something that seems so simple! It really takes a lot of courage to go against what the society deems to be who or what you are and in this case “A Real Wolf.” 😛


    • Haha. Of course the philosopher and the psychologist in me (ever the social scientist) would naturally ask: “what is real?” “what constitutes reality?” Hahahaa. =)


  3. Pingback: Carnival of Children’s Literature and Round-up for August |

  4. Pingback: List of Fractured Fairy Tales – A Gathering Books Recommendation |

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