As the title indicates, Chapman plays with the raised-by-wolves trope in this first-day-of-school book.
As might be expected of a feral child, Steve’s transition to school is not a smooth one, despite a pep talk from his wolf mother (“just be yourself”). A day of mayhem yields scowls from his classmates and a note from his teacher. The next day does not go much better, but his mother is determined that he keep at it. On the third, though, “Steve’s wolf instincts” save the day when he follows his nose to the lost class hamster. (Happily, he does not then eat it.) Chapman’s bright, flat digital cartoons depict Steve as a towheaded white child with a protruding lower canine; Steve’s kindergarten class is nicely multiethnic, including his brown-skinned teacher. Although Chapman doesn’t take the scenario as far as it could go—somehow these wolves have acquired clothing for Steve and more or less trained him to wear it—he still generates quite a few laughs. From his dead-bird sandwich (wings protruding from the bread) and his habit of sitting on his haunches and howling to his gleeful marking of the playground slide, Steve’s wolflike behavior will have children giggling.
Whether readers extrapolate from Steve’s experiences to their own is open to question, but the story’s message of the need to balance individuality with group expectations is neatly presented. (Picture book. 5-8)