Swallowed by a wolf, a mouse and duck defend their cozy belly from a hunter.
When the mouse is swallowed, its lament wakes duck, abed “in the belly of the beast.” Over breakfast, the mouse asks, “Where did you get jam?…And a tablecloth?” The response: “You’d be surprised what you find inside of a wolf.” Readers will be, too: the duck manages a shipshape household that includes a four-burner cooktop, a nice set of knives, and formalwear for fancy dinners. The duck explains that living inside the wolf eliminates that daily, existential fear of being swallowed by wolves. The mouse stays; the two celebrate by dancing to records. The wolf, meanwhile, roils with stomach pain, which is then worsened by the duck’s suggested “cure.” “Eat a hunk of good cheese. And a flagon of wine! And some beeswax candles.” When a hunter corners the ailing wolf, the mouse insists on fighting to “defend our home.” It’s this enterprising pair that wins the day: the hunter flees from its unexpected, armed trajectory out of the wolf’s mouth. The grateful wolf extends a favor—which the duo redeems in phonograph records. Klassen’s signature palette, compositions, and comedic, horizontally elongated eyes are here along with the heightened action propelled by Barnett’s narrative. Barnett wrestles Aesop and Grimm into pretzels, adding a groaner ending (“And that’s why the wolf howls at the moon”) for the mustard.
A howl. (Picture book. 4-8)