The Wolf, the Duck, & the Mouse by Mac Barnett (review)
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Reviewed by
Barnett, Mac The Wolf, the Duck, & the Mouse; illus. by Jon Klassen. Candlewick, 2017 [40p]
ISBN 978-0-7636-7754-1 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R* 6-9 yrs

Poor Mouse thinks it’s the end of everything when he’s gobbled by a wolf, but he’s stunned to find a duck cozily set up in the wolf’s belly, with comfy furniture and freedom from worry (“When I was outside, ” the duck explains, “I was afraid every day wolves would swallow me up”). As the mouse and duck party down, the wolf unsurprisingly gets a tummy ache; when a hunter pursues the incapacitated wolf, the mouse and duck emerge from the wolf’s gullet determined to “ride to defend our home, ” and scare off the thoroughly freaked-out hunter. The ending has a touch of pourquoi tale (the reason the wolf howls at the moon is because he’s got some serious indigestion), while the rest of the story has the pokerfaced, formally touched stylings of a fractured fable. Klassen employs collage-like layering, water-color speckles, and crayony sweeping lines in the mixed-media art; white outlines make the figures pop against the dark lupine interior, and comic elements (the mouse and duck ride to action with saucepan and colander helmets, respectively) ramp up the funny. Introduce this to fans of Scieszka’s classic The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (BCCB 10/92), or slip this in amid the Aesop and see who notices.

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