________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 27. . . .March 19, 2010


Wolf Wanted.

Ana Maria Machado. Illustrated by Laurent Cardon. Translated by Elisa Amado.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books, 2010.
40 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-0-88899-880-4.

Subject Heading:
Wolves-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3-4 / Ages 8-9.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

**½ /4



Manny's writing skills turned out to solve his biggest problem—finding a job. Lucky he was such a good writer.

But even better, Manny Wolf loved to read. He knew lots of stories. And because of that there wasn't a wolf around who could fool such a reader as he. All he had to do was to start reading a letter and he could see right through it.

The first letter started like this:

      "I am a very famous wolf.
      My face is known around the world. People have been talking about me for centuries. And I have lots of other skills.
      For example, I am very charming, convincing and a good talker.
      I could be a good salesman, because I have lots of experience convincing people to do what I want, especially small girls walking through the woods by themselves who have sick people waiting for them at home.
      I've got very big ears, very big eyes and a very big mouth."


The idea behind Groundwood's new book, Wolf Wanted, is a clever one. An advertisement, calling for the services of a wolf, has been placed in a newspaper. The company is then inundated with job applications from a variety of storybook wolves, each seeking the new position. Wolf Wanted was originally published in Brazil in 2005 as Procura-se Lobo. The story was written by Ana Maria Machado while the illustrations were created by Laurent Cardon. The English translation is by Elisa Amado.

internal art     In 2000, Ana Maria Machado won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award, arguably the most significant award in the world of children's literature. It is awarded every two years to an author in recognition of her/his life's work and the contribution s/he has made to the field of literature for children.

     In Wolf Wanted, Manny Wolf reads and responds to job application letters from a variety of wolves, including the ones from the stories Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. The wolf from Kipling's The Jungle Book, the wolf in sheep's clothing, and St. Francis of Assisi's wolf also apply for the job. Another applicant is the wolf from Peter and the Wolf. Other, lesser known wolves also apply for the job, such as the wolf from the Brothers Grimm that appears in the story of The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. While the story is fun, the book is promoted as being for children aged four to seven years. I do not believe that Canadian children of such a young age are sufficiently aware of enough of the book's wolves to appreciate the story. I suspect that some young readers and/or listeners will have trouble identifying the wolves in question and will, therefore, be confused by the book.

      Cardon's artwork is attractive. The mixed media illustrations include the employment of collage, coloured pencils, pastels, and thick paint brush strokes. The illustrations are heavily textured and feature a vibrant, varied colour palette. The artwork adds interest and appeal to the book; however, it does little to clarify the confusion that will exist about the identity of many of the wolves included in the story.

      The last double page spread, featuring photographs and information about wolves and their relations around the world, is non-fiction and conveys a strong conservation message. For some readers, this jump from storybook wolves to non-fiction might also create some confusion.

      While the story idea behind Wolf Wanted is fun, the book is somewhat awkward and, I expect, will not be understood by some readers and listeners. I suspect that it is best suited to an older audience than Groundwood suggests, and, even then, some readers will have difficulty identifying each wolf being portrayed as the author of the various job application letters. While there is much to like about the story idea, the interesting artwork, and the conservation message, I have reservations in recommending the book.

Recommended with reservations.

Gregory Bryan teaches literacy classes and children's literature in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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