Little wolf cubs venture into the forest while their mother is away.
First published in German in Switzerland and now translated into English, this innocent story follows the classic home-away-home formula. Four small wolf cubs venture outside of their cave one night while their mother is away hunting. (This atypical family unit—wolf packs are usually father, mother, older siblings, and youngest littermates—is not explained.) The cubs are entranced by the forest smells and sounds and venture further, traveling throughout the following day and into the next night. Small activities occur: They see their reflections in a pond, startling them, hear an owl, which enchants them, and, in an odd segue, run away from a sleeping hunter. The magic of the story, though, is not in its modest action but in Herrmann’s lovely lyrical language, which ambles along generously (this is not a concise narrative), and, most especially, in Wilkoń’s viscerally empathetic illustrations. His use of warm, rich colors and amorphous shapes brings a sense of life and atmosphere to the whole even as they evoke in the renderings of the cubs a childlike wonder and innocence. While the book’s design is uneventful—text on white paper on verso, full-page illustrations on recto—and the ending lacks pizazz, there is an overall endearingly soothing and comfortable quality to this tale.
A quiet interlude of innocence. (Picture book. 3-7)