Nadia Shireen's debut picture book "Good Little Wolf" is charming, playful and irreverent.
Rolf is a model citizen - his best friend is a grandmother, he's pleasant to pigs, he enjoys baking and dutifully eats his greens. Then, low and behold, on a walk in creepy wood he's cornered by the archetypal bully - the Big Bad Wolf - who promptly informs Rolf that he's a failure as wolves go. Rolf maintains that he is a real wolf, he just happens to be of the good and little variety. But, though he is a very awesome, cute and spunky little wolf, he fails at the real wolf task list. Nearing the end of his tether, but sticking to his good guns, Rolf ties up the bully for hinting that devouring his best friend would prove his wolfhood. Rolf, being the nobler creature, releases the BBW and there follows a cordial tea at which the grandmother personage and Rolf suggest that BBW change his ways and become a BGW instead. Shireen then wraps it all up with a tasty ambiguity.
Shireen's writing uses familiar characters in a "Revolting Rhymes" mode, employing repetition and a delightful cadence. The illustration sequence, a mixture of full spread scenes, split spread images and individual vignettes, sets the pace of the tale nicely. The characters are bold and wry - Rolf is furry and adorable, the BBW is deliciously dangerous in his ebony pelt and the elderly dear has a manic pain-killer induced grin all the while.
All-in-all, this is an engaging story about identity and stereotypes, told with witty words and enchanting illustrations. A fairytale with bite!
Thanks for reading,