I spied The Big Bad Wolf and Me (Sterling, $9.95) at my favorite place to spend my allowance, Pooh’s Corner, an independent children’s bookstore in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Even book reviewers need inspiration and ‘indies’ (not to be confused with ‘undies’) often introduce me to titles by smaller publishers because of their eclectic and distinctive reading selections. Sterling has an established history of quality books at reasonable prices. Check them out at www.sterlingpublishing.com/kids. Big Bad Wolf is a chapter book written as much in pictures as in words. A young boy walking home from school encounters a wolf that is so ‘un-wolfy’ the boy mistakes him for a dog. The wolf fears his inadequacy will cause him to waste away to nothing. The boy takes him home as a charity case. Kids will love the sense of empowerment they will feel as the boy decides he is going to rehabilitate this wolf. “It was fun to be the teacher for a change,” the boy remarks. This means fattening him up with chocolate chip cookies and teaching him how to be fierce. The wolf is a sad case, though. “I just tried to eat your sister,” he tells the boy. “That’s great! Go for it! She’s a real pest,” the boy replies. “Yeah, but I couldn’t do it! I’m a failure. I’ll never scare anyone!” As the wolf begins to sniffle, the boy says “Oh, stop. You aren’t going to cry now are you? You’re too big to cry.” Each line is accompanied by a simple drawing that, once again, helps the reader with the task of decoding. The size of the book and the sophistication of the subject make this a wonderful transition from picture books to chapter books for any reader, but especially so for older kids who are behind.
Got suggestions for making the leap from picture books to chapters? Please add them in comments. Another title I favor is The Ink Drinker by Eric Sanvoisin (there are a few of these).