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Big Wolf and Little Wolf
A Junior Library Guild Selection
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About the Book
Big Wolf lives alone under a tree at the top of a hill. He is alone, but happy. One day he sees another wolf approaching, a little wolf. Without a word, Little Wolf sits down next to Big Wolf. He stays all night and all the next day. At first Big Wolf is suspicious. He also is worried that Little Wolf will grow bigger and become a rival. After a while, however, he starts to feel fond of his small companion. He decides to let Little Wolf share his covers, just a little, so he isn’t cold at night. The next day he shares some of his lunch. Just as Big Wolf is starting to get used to his new friend, and even to care for him, Little Wolf disappears. Big Wolf is too proud to cry or get upset, but the reader cannot miss the great mix of emotions he feels, which are movingly portrayed in Olivier Tallec’s sensitive illustrations. Big Wolf loses his appetite and cannot sleep. He spends his time staring at the horizon, waiting for Little Wolf to return, but without the slightest reason to hope that he will. But with the arrival of spring Little Wolf does return. Big Wolf is so happy his heart almost bursts. The two wolves shyly admit that without each other they found life lonely. Never again will they leave each other’s side.
Awards and Reviews
Batchelder Honor Book 2010
ALA Notable Books 2010
Prix de l'album 2007 Cherbourg
Prix France Télévision 2006
Prix des Enfants 2006 du Salon Chrétien de Troyes
Prix littéraire jeunesse de 2006 Chambray-les-tours
Adopted by the French National curriculum
"Three Stars - Outstanding. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book! WONDERFUL story, awesome illustrations. Just an enjoyable, colorful book you can immerse yourself in. All about sharing and friendship and nowhere near overdoing it it with heavy-handedness like many books today. Just a great story that your child will love to have you read to him and you'll enjoy it just as much. Great storytelling!" - Lisa Barker, JellyMom.com
"Long-snouted, fangless, decidedly unscary wolves--one large and black, one small and blue--step tentatively toward companionship in this charming French import. Big Wolf is content with his solitary life when Little Wolf comes "from so far away that at first he looked no bigger than a dot." The two appraise each other gently, and soon Big Wolf shares just a bit of his leaf blanket, exercise routine, and fruit. Then Little Wolf disappears. The matter-of-fact telling and Tallec's illustrations, spare of detail, saturated with brilliant color, keep this tale of absence and hearts grown fond from becoming saccharine. Emotions are conveyed through gestures and askance glances. When Big Wolf peers into the distance for a glimpse of Little Wolf or clutches his heart, words are barely needed. Thankfully all ends well. A Visitor for Bear (2008) by Bonny Becker covers similar territory more raucously, but sensitive children will feel satisfied with the wolves' quiet resolution. This is a book that deserves a place on readers' shelves and in their hearts. -- Karen Cruze, Booklist
"Big Wolf lived all alone at the top of a hill under a tree. But then one day, Little Wolf came and stayed under Big Wolf’s tree. The two wolves didn’t talk, but they watched each other. When night fell, Big Wolf shared a small corner of his leaf blanket with him. In the morning, Little Wolf climbed the tree following Big Wolf and did exercises together. Big Wolf shared his meal with Little Wolf but still never talked with him. Big Wolf headed out for his walk, looking back and seeing Little Wolf get smaller and smaller in the distance. When he returned to the tree though, Little Wolf was gone. Big Wolf was shocked, astounded to find that he missed Little Wolf deeply. So what is a lone wolf to do when he finds himself to be more of a LONELY wolf?
Brun-Cosme has created a picture book with a unique feel. Her wording is simple and almost bare. It is through that very minimalist writing that the emotions are really clear and powerful. It is also a format that works well for a lone wolf and his simple life. Tallec’s art is different here than in some of his other work (like Rita and Whatsit). He uses paint to create a world of open fields and wide skies, but plays with color to make it a world in a vivid palette of pinks, yellows, blues, and greens. This depth of color and strong lines make the illustrations a foil for the simple words.
This book speaks to the lonely of us, the confused, the awkward. It is a picture book that every child will understand whether they have been Little or Big. Appropriate for ages 4-6." – Kids Lit
"For a while now I've made a small hobby out of trying to find children's books that do not demonize wolves. I'm not talking about the many fine nonfiction titles about the animal, but picture books that include wolves as characters. Generally, they are pretty much always out to eat everybody in their path, and enjoying the prospect of all those tasty meals. That is why I was so very surprised to discover Nadine Brun-Cosme's very sweet Big Wolf & Little wolf. In this story, which is about an unexpected friendship, the two solitary wolves meet and gently reach out to each other. Big Wolf in particular is set in his ways and not too sure if he needs a friend. Little Wolf, who is a lovely shade of blue, is the far more easygoing member of the duo. Big Wolf does not reach out though, and when he goes for a walk one day and returns Little Wolf is gone. That is when he realizes how much he did want a friend and patiently sets to waiting for his return.
It's a picture book about friendship, so I'm sure you know what happens in the end.
Big Wolf & Little wolf is a very gentle story and Olivier Tallec's impressionist illustrations complement it in every way. The wolves are almost childish in appearance but their very mature concern for friends, and their uncertainty about how to be them, will echo with anyone who has ever wanted to make the first move but been unsure how to do it. The message is clear but the story so straightforward that it's hard to resist. This is another wonderful bedtime book that will provide some easy food for thought and might help a child or two work out a few social questions of their own. The fact that wolves are the good guys here is just some fabulous icing on the cake." -- Colleen Mondor, eclectica.org
Read Colleen's wonderful essay about the three Wolf titles here .