When Rolf, a good little wolf, encounters the archetypal big baddie, justice is nearly—but not quite—served.
Rolf’s granny-ish best friend Mrs. Boggins praises his goodness but cautions him that some wolves are “downright bad.” Promptly, he meets just such a specimen—enormous, jet-black, toothy and yellow-eyed. The Big Bad Wolf instructs Rolf in true wolfishness, and the pup unsuccessfully tries howling at the moon ("pheep!") and blowing Little Pig’s house in. When a wild power does arise in him, Rolf uses it to entangle the large wolf in Mrs. Boggins’ knitting yarn. When the three sit then down amicably for “some tea and cake” Rolf asks if the wolf will stop eating people. “ ‘Oh, I suppose so,’ said the Big Bad Wolf… / ‘I’ll stop first thing tomorrow.’ ” Rolf and Mrs. Boggins are conspicuously absent from that next spread (perturbing, for younger preschoolers). The BBW, belly distended, muses over his cuppa in a green armchair. Shireen’s debut misses the mark by too casually fracturing folkloric elements. When Rolf asks to blow his house in, the Little Pig says “You can try, I suppose,” and even apologizes when Rolf’s effort fails. While the graphically arresting layout features bold-hued, well-telegraphed interplay between childish innocence and lupine malevolence, the depiction of Mrs. Boggins as a frozen-faced, smiling South Park–esque twit further detracts.Visually interesting, but flawed. (Picture book. 4-7)