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[Saturday Reads] My Literary Journey Brings Me (Again) To Switzerland

Meet a wolf who loves music (and how he was rewarded by people for it).


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

The main character in this story is a young girl who plays violin. The title also suggests the presence of another creature with an affinity for music. Hence, this book seems suitable given our current reading theme until end of the year.

The Wolf Who Loved Music

Written by Christophe Gallaz Illustrated by Marshall Arisman Translated by Mary Logue
Published by Creative Editions (2003)
ISBN: 156846178X (ISBN13: 9781568461786)
Original Title: Le Loup Qui Aimait La Musique, extract from Contes et Légendes de Suisse
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This book has a longer-than-usual text, but with enough spaces for the eye to rest. Rather than have  the text seamlessly interweave with the images, it is neatly placed in one page, with the art in the other. The story begins with a description of an eight or nine year old young girl named Anne who lived with her family on the edge of a forest in Switzerland. She has just been learning to play the violin and was taught by an old professor who comes to her house each week.

Then, one day, Anne decided to go deep into the forest with her violin. Whether this is brought about by her mother’s injunctions or warnings after reading her a book about a girl in a red hood is not clear. But it does seem pretty universal for young people to do the one thing that their parents expressly forbid them to. And so, with her violin, Anne went deeper into the forest, and when she found a clearing, she opened her violin case and began to play.

After awhile though, Anne got tired, and instead of heading back home, she inexplicably decided to lie down in the forest to sleep. Naturally, her parents were beside themselves. With the help of townsfolks and police officers, they eventually found her, with animal tracks surrounding her. When the adults found out that Anne saw a wolf-shaped shadow while she was playing her violin, they took it upon themselves to hunt this wolf down while Anne was finally brought home, safe, in her family’s home.

As the jacketflap indicated:

Soon a massive hunt is on – the end of which leaves Anne to wonder, who are the beasts? Wolves or men?

As can be seen in the original title (but not translated in the English one), this seems to be extracted from a Swiss legend. It would have been good if there was an Author’s Note in the end explaining the context or background of the narrative. Christophe Gallaz is known for his infinitely disturbing Rose Blanche illustrated by Roberto Innocenti (which I reviewed here).

Hence, this story follows the same theme and vibe, with a thoughtful tale that demands the reader to reflect on the lengths that people usually go to – out of fear, unwarranted or not.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: Switzerland

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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).

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