Just the right combination of fairy tale and bedtime book, scary and soothing.
While playing outside, Alice and Jack hear something in the woods, and despite Jack’s hesitation, the two children (who seem to be siblings) go to investigate. Both children are white with blond hair and ruddy complexions. Older Alice is brave and curious, guiding her little brother deeper into the forest as they continue to hear bits of strange verse like: “Offtis or eeef edd/un gentil daa breez.” Timid Jack wonders, “But what if it’s the Wicked Wolf…with his big bad claws?” Alice repeatedly assures him that “everything is going to be all right,” but she is the one who falters when they do see a wolf in the forest. Before they run away, Jack looks closer and sees that it’s a mother wolf singing to her babies, and now they can make out the lullaby she croons and that led them into the woods. The children return home with the mother wolf’s song in their ears, and they heed its advice that it’s “time now to dream.” Oxenbury’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations underscore the text’s timeless feel and add whimsy with just the right touch of eeriness. Her ever-so-slightly anthropomorphized wolves and sun-dappled forest are as inviting as anything she’s done.
Time now to savor this lovely offering. (Picture book. 3-8)