The Wolf, The Duck, & The Mouse
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2017
Source: Public Library
Collaborators Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have once again worked together to produce a picture book which young readers are sure to love. In this pourquoi tale we learn the reason that wolves howl at the moon. The book jacket gives us the simple story line: “This story is about a mouse, and how he got swallowed up by a wolf, and who he met down in its belly, and what happened after that.” Believe me when I tell you that you won’t guess all the things that go on in the wolf’s belly, but you will enjoy the fun!
The text is simple and straightforward. “Early one morning, a mouse met a wolf, and he was quickly gobbled up.” That’s pretty clear, even to the youngest of listeners. Then the humor kicks in – for instead of being digested, the mouse makes a friend. Inside the belly, duck lives a pretty nice life (except there are no windows). And it’s even better when mouse joins him, because now there are dinner parties, dancing and music for two. It is quite a ruckus. Think of how that poor wolf must be feeling! Then along comes someone who could change things for all three critters, bringing an outcome that combines both the unexpected and the familiar.
Klassen’s illustrations are a bit somber and muted in color palette (well, they would have to be when you’re living in a windowless belly!), but nonetheless sparkle with the amusing side of the situation. Fortunately, the story and pictures are more upbeat, making the reader feel like they have gained friends themselves.