CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 2. . . .September 11, 2009
One Wolf Howls is at least four books in one. To begin with, it's a counting book with the number of wolves increasing by one on each successive double page spread. It is also a calendar book that commences with one lone wolf "howl[ing] in the January moonlight" and concludes with a wolf pack, consisting of a dozen wolves, "sing[ing] a December chorus." In a sense, it also is a "seasons" book as Detwiler's realistic illustrations reflect the seasonally changing flora. And One Wolf Howls is also a book of poetry as the text for each spread consists of a four line, two sentence, poem that has some repeating features, both internally and between poems. The first line identifies the number of wolves as well as the month, and the verb tells what the wolf/wolves is/are doing: howls, play, bark, hunt, peek, nap, trot, dance, hide, sniff, sleep, and sing. The word(s) connected to the month most often provide a mini weathercast for the month, eg. "February snowfall," "brisk March morning" or "April rainfall." The second line describes the wolves, usually in terms of what they are doing, while the third line is an exact repeat of the poem's first line The first four words in the poem's final line, "deep in the woods," are common to all 12 stanzas while the remaining words locate more precisely where the wolves are in the woods. The poetry uses an ABAB rhyme scheme.
Like most reviewers with an English, not Fine Art, major, I'm much more comfortable talking about a book's text than I am in speaking to a picturebook's art. Since I was most impressed by Detwiler's illustrations, I decided, with the assistance of a Google search, to e-mail her and to ask her what medium/media she used. Following is her reply in full: "For the illustrations, first I do a detailed pencil drawing on Strathmore 500 series cold press illustration board and then I use Yarka (a Russian brand) pan watercolors with gouache highlights. My favorite brushes are Winsor & Newton series 7. For more information, I did an interview with Stephanie Ruble about illustrating that can be viewed at: http://sruble.livejournal.com/84829.html. I do recommend reading the interview as it does provide more detail concerning how she created the illustrations.
Dave Jenkinson, who lives in Winnipeg, MB, is CM's editor.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.