From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 5—After finding only "nasty, scary, and greedy" wolves in his entire collection of books about these animals, Wolf sits down to write a story about a "NICE wolf." Mr. Nice Wolf wants nothing more than to be friends with the creature whose footprints in the snow he follows into the forest. However, the bunny, frog, and squirrel he meets along the way flee as quickly as they can. When he meets the animal he's been seeking, the story deepens and author Wolf falls into the ambivalent waters of appetite and intention, vision and artistic creation. Matsuoka's softly colored mixed-media illustrations buoy readers between Wolf and his tale throughout: at the edges of various pages, there are glimpses of Wolf's paws, pencils and pens, writing desk, and research material. Similarly, the arrangement of the text mimics the winding path of footprints Mr. Nice Wolf follows, creating a quiet visual continuity from beginning to end. Listeners will enjoy this story for its suspense and good humor, while older readers will find much to explore in the implications of Wolf's artistic adventure.—Bethany Isaacson, Wheaton Regional Library, Silver Spring, MD
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Wolf, tired of reading books about nasty, scary, greedy wolves, decides to pen his own story about a nice wolf. In the tale, Wolf follows footprints in the snow, hoping he can make a new friend. Rabbit and Frog don’t buy his line, and, sure enough, when Wolf realizes the footprints belong to fat, juicy Duck, he begins to salivate. Both plot and pictures then take a surprising turn, which will delight young readers. Replete with visual allusions to popular wolf stories, the folk art–style illustrations set up the scenario for thisstory-within-stories. The art also yields several opportunities for readers’ discoveries: the stuffed animals on Wolf’s shelf become the characters in his story, while the subtle placement of Wolf’s paw and pen make readers almost forget that they’re reading Wolf’s made-up tale. Indeed, Wolf himself seems to have become so involved in his story that he is startled by the turn of events. Left up to the imagination is the question of whether art imitates life or life imitates art. Pair with Emily Gravett’s Wolves (2006). Preschool-Grade 3. --Patricia Austin
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