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The Wolves in the Walls Hardcover – August 5, 2003
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Up to this point, McKean's illustrations are spectacular, sinister collages awash in golden sepia tones evocative of the creepy beauty in The City of Lost Children. The wolves explode into the story in scratchy pen-and-ink, all jaws and eyes. The family flees to the cold, moonlit garden, where they ponder their future. (Her brother suggests, for example, that they escape to outer space where there's "nothing but foozles and squossucks for billions of miles.") Lucy wants to live in her own house...and she wants the pig-puppet she left behind.
Eventually she talks her family into moving back into the once-wolfish walls, where they peek out at the wolves who are watching their television and spilling popcorn on slices of toast and jam, dashing up the stairs, and wearing their clothes. When the family can't stand it anymore, they burst forth from the walls, scaring the wolves, who shout, "And when the people come out of the walls, it's all over!" The wolves flee and everything goes back to normal...until the tidy ending when Lucy hears "a noise that sounded exactly like an elephant trying not to sneeze." Adult fans of this talented pair will revel in the quirky story and its darkly gorgeous, deliciously shadowy trappings, but the young or faint of heart, beware! (Ages 9 and older) --Karin Snelson
From School Library Journal
Marian Creamer, Children's Literature Alive, Portland, OR
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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More About the Author
In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at www.neilgaiman.com more or less up to date.
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Top Customer Reviews
Neil Gaiman has long been one of my favorite authors, but I admit I had doubts as to how well he could write for children. With a history of gritty, streetwise characters, ( I'm thinking John Constantine, or maybe Door, here), I thought he might just be too edgy for the little ones.
All my fears were put to rest after reading The Wolves in the Walls, though for the kids they were just beginning!
The story is scary, especially accompanied by Dave McKean's dramatic illustrations. But, as surreal as the plot is, there is a comforting normality in the interactions of the characters.
Lucy, the young girl who is the only one of her family to recognize the danger lurking behind the house's walls, is reassuringly level-headed. She never panics, but reacts sensibly and courageously to the bizarre events which inspire only confusion and fear in her parents.
After the wolves come out, the family is forced to abandon the house. The mother and father, giving all up for lost, propose preposterous solutions to resolve the family's sudden homelessness. Dad thinks they might move to a desert island, mom suggests a hot-air balloon.
Lucy calmly rides out her family's panic, making some decisions about what is most important to her, and how best to save the day.
Gaiman never panders to children, and never assumes their fears are less valid than an adult's. Saying that, he also seems to have no qualms with playing off those fears.
I wish that as a child, I had read books that had really addressed my fears, and answered the question, just what if the wolves really had come out of the walls?
It is soon discovered, however, that there ARE wolves in the walls, and they erupt into Lucy and her parents' house one night, chasing them out of their home and taking over the residence. The only item to make it out of the house was her father's primary tuba. Lucy's pig puppet, her mothers jams and foodstuffs, and her brothers video games are still in the house. And Lucy sneaks back up to find the wolves taking advantage of all these items (and even abusing her father's 'secondary' tuba).
The family soon tires of spending nights out in the garden and decide to take back their home. The ending is fun and enjoyable.
The story is light, non-bloody, and very enjoyable. Depending on your childrens level of understanding, this might be a very fun book for them. Mainly for two reasons...
One, it shows how a child can have power within her family and become a hero (even though this story is fictional). Two, the graphic images portrayed by artist Dave McKean are intersted, fresh and original.
I've read other reviews from readers here at Amazon and someone said that this story might be 'Too scarey to read to a child.' I disagree. There's no bloodshed, or gore, or excess violence. I think a child would be more frightened by what they read in a newspaper or see on the nightly news, rather than THIS book.
A+ children's story and graphics.
The pairing of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean on this book is inspired. Gaiman has often said in interviews that he sees this book less as a picture book and more as a graphic novel. The distinction is slight. In some cases the pages are separated into four panels (something you'd see in a comic book and not, necessarily, a story for children). But I disagree with Mr. Gaiman. This is a picture book and it shows. McKean has taken Gaiman's wonderfully twisted tale and created pictures that combine such a huge amount of different media, it could blow your mind. A single panel might have a gigantic wolf drawn in pen and ink with photos of socks on its feet and fabric beneath him for the bed.
Is the story too scary for children? Well, sure. For some children. I'm not going to grab the your two year-old and force them to read it. But kids with a healthy sense of humor and intelligence will like this book. It will not give them nightmares. It will not make them afraid of wolves for the rest of their little lives. But it will peak their interest and curiosity. I recommend it. It's a one in a million book.
Some may think this book will frighten children, but it seems more like a healthy lesson in showing how silly such fear can be. The book is more about defeating fear, as the family was able to get rid of the wolves so easily. In the end the things that seem so scary (monsters under the bed, etc) are silly things that can be defeated with a simple look. And it doesn't hurt that this book is written cleverly and with wonderful style.
I could go on and on about this book, but I will just sum up by saying: art is great, writing is great, story is fun and interesting and great for dramatic outloud readings, and the story is an excellent lesson in the silliness of childhood fears.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another great children's book by Neil Gaiman. I highly recommend this book. A fun read.Published 22 days ago by Sith Lord
Gaiman perfectly writes about what happens when we avoid difficult topics, aka the "wolves in the walls" and how facing those topics head-on are the only way to regain... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Amanda Fager
This is such a great book. My 3.5 year old daughter is fascinated by it and it's her new favorite. My only complaint is that she won't sleep in her own bed because she thinks... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Lucy leads her family to overcome impossible odds. Even my grandson, who prefers non-fiction, got caught up in the imagination of wolves in the walls.. Another Gaiman classic.Published 1 month ago by KjS
A fun story, with a lot of lines that lend themselves to repetition and funny voices. My grandkids frequently repeat "When [ something happens] IT'S ALL OVER!! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Marc W. Davis
This book was a recommendation for starting off the school year. While I thought it might have been on the young-side for my 11 year old, he really did enjoy reading it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jessica I
I like the story, particularly the proactive role that the daughter plays. The writing is engaging. Read morePublished 2 months ago by A. Brasseur