Mac Barnett (text), Jon Klassen (illus.), The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse, Walker Books Australia, 1 Nov 2017, 40pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781406377798
Masterful duo Barnett and Klassen, behind the brilliance of such books as Sam and Dave a Dig a Hole, and Triangle, return with yet another creation of literary genius that will have readers consumed with pure gut-busting delight. This fractured fairy tale, in essence of the Big Bad Wolf, totally satisfies with its delicious dark comedy and life changing realisations.
A mouse, who is unexpectedly gobbled up, and a bizarrely contented pre-feasted duck take favour to their inhabitance inside the belly of the ravenous wolf. They do not merely accept it. In fact, they live in a life of luxury with their fancy attire, music records blaring and lavish candlelit dinners. With all this internal rumbling, the poorly wolf almost faces his own endangering demise, but not without the help of his inner unlikely heroes.
Klassen’s lively inhabitants pop with vigour within their warm, nestled dusky surrounds, shaded with his characteristically sepia-tonal palette yet softened with scratchy texture and painterly backgrounds. Barnett brilliantly ties in the old, traditional timeless tale with his selection of characters, classic language and the fable-like principle, “And that’s why the wolf howls at the moon.”
I love the positive outlook that casts a light of victory when the depths seem dreary. And combined with the hilarity and creativity, The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse is set to become a treasured contemporary classic for all ages.
Reviewed by Romi Sharp