When a toothy black wolf falls out of a book in a little girl’s overstuffed library, he learns that real life can be much scarier than fiction.
The mouse-sized wolf (remember, he fell out of a book) tries to escape from a cat by plunging back in, but a sheep kicks him out “because he arrived too early in the story.” He tries again. But the other wolves scold him because he is arriving “when the story is finished.” He climbs the “tall, straight” shelves, nearly falling in his terror. He tries to climb into a fairy tale but is rejected because he is unsuitably dressed for a ball. Another book about dinosaurs is equally unwelcoming, being full of dangerous animals. Choosing another book “at random,” he finds himself in a large forest, where he finds a “little girl dressed in red,” sitting on a log and weeping. The wolf agrees to accompany her to her grandmother’s house. Those familiar with the story of Little Red Riding Hood will make the connection and may even enjoy the enigmatic, anticlimactic joke at the end; young readers who don’t know that story will be mystified. Mabire’s pen-and-watercolor illustrations are workmanlike, if repetitive—the cover, endpapers, and several spreads offer similar views of Sophie’s library bookshelves, which become monotonous after a while.
Attractive and initially inventive but ultimately lacking in substance. (Picture book. 4-8)