An unseen narrator slyly frightens a rabbit by describing the not-very-wolflike characteristics of an approaching wolf.
Readers peer across a tabletop at a rabbit cowering behind the other side. “Tell me, Rabbit. Do you know the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf?” asks the narrator, who seems positioned in the same place as readers. Ever silent, Rabbit draws a Big Bad Wolf on a wall-mounted blackboard while the narrator urges corrections: Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf has smaller ears, smaller nose, smaller teeth and longer hair than a Big Bad. Rabbit draws each change, while the rubbed-out chalk lines remain nicely visible too. Suddenly, “here it comes!” The chalk likeness appears decidedly un-lupine at this point, yet the rabbit flees in terror. Wolf approaches from the left of the page, showing only claws; Rabbit bounds to the right, diving behind a ball—“Not there. The wolf can see your ears”—and then a pile of books—“Not there. The wolf can see your tail.” The “wolf,” when it appears, is pretty benign, and the recently screaming-and-running rabbit reverts to expressionlessness. Escoffier’s story demonstrates that things may be less frightening than they seem; however, edginess seeps in through Di Giacomo’s rough scribble-style lines on rustic, pulpy paper, blank backgrounds that spotlight the chase, the wolf-suited (Max-like) child’s grasp on the rabbit’s ears, and some excremental evidence (recurring on the endpapers) of the rabbit’s real fear.
In offering three distinct viewpoints, this curious piece makes a splendid conversation-starter. (Picture book. 3-6)