An energetic young werewolf delights in his speed and strength in this British import.
Oliver, depicted as a child with brown skin and tightly curled black hair, is at the bus stop when suddenly all of his friends flee. He doesn’t understand why the bus won’t stop for him nor why a man shouts, “Help! A werewolf!” when approached—until a glimpse of his reflection reveals his transformation. Oliver’s excited to run, jump, and howl, but his glee is short-lived, quickly turning to anxiety: If friends run away terrified, how will his parents react? Happily, Oliver comes from a family of werewolves—his parents are unperturbed, and they’re all human again at sunrise. Some readers may appreciate seeing this black child revel in supernatural abilities. However, the story also shows Oliver denied service on public transportation and treated as a menace on the street before he realizes he’s a werewolf, which is serious, even distressing in an American context. Emotive illustrations, lupine jokes galore, and a vigorous story are balanced against troubling possible interpretations.
The wolfish pictures are charmingly done, and the basic plot is sure to appeal, but the underpinning metaphor (regardless of intent) makes it difficult to recommend this title without reservations. (Picture book. 4-8)