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Woolvs in the Sitee Hardcover – September 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press - Front Street imprint (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590785002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590785003
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 9 x 12.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6–9—Shortlisted for three top children's book prizes in Australia, this picture book for older readers is the collaboration of an honored author and illustrator team. In a post-apocalyptic world, a teen protagonist lives alone in a derelict building. Terrified of the outside world and of the "woolvs" he sees there, the boy is tempted out of his apartment by what he misapprehends as a glimpse of blue sky. He is rescued by his only friend, elderly Mrs. Radinski, who ventures into the dark streets to save him. When the woman later disappears, the boy must reach deep for the courage to go looking for her. Every creative decision succeeds in making this a disorienting and harrowing story. Presentation of powerful themes is singular, the seemingly scrawled text being entirely phonetic with occasional invented words. The jarring reading experience, which readers will have to pore over, heightens the impression of a brutal, off-kilter world. Intensity is further magnified by Spudvilas's visual interpretation of the boy's world in heavy, aggressive charcoal line and watercolor wash, the palette dark with rare splashes of color. The wolves that terrify the boy are never portrayed. In the end, hope can be found in his determination to free himself from the crippling fear that controls his life. A final portrait shows him, brave but vulnerable, addressing readers, issuing the challenge, "Joyn me." This stunning title will best succeed with a visually literate audience who, growing up in a world of potential chaos, can read metaphor and appreciate ambiguity.—Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
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Review

* Semi-phonetic spelling and slashing, ominous art add powerful notes of anxiety and otherness to this eerie psychodrama...Using colors that suggest shadows and burning, Spudvilas creates a scary, depopulated urban setting heavy with unspecific threat. But Ben does defy his fears at the end, and similarly beleaguered children may be inspired to follow his example. Provocative reading. --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Cathy Condon Bannister on August 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Margaret Wild is one of Australia's most successful, imaginative and challenging writers for children, and Woolvs in the Sitee the bravest to date. It is a beautiful and frightening book, with poetic language rich with unsettling imagery and metaphor. It presents a dystopic post-Western world, in which people vanish and `woolvs' prowl. The exact nature of these woolvs is never quite spelt out.

Nor, for that matter, is anything else: the most striking aspect of Woolvs in the Sitee is the phonetic spelling that forms the voice of protagonist Ben. The device speaks of his interrupted schooling, the disappearance of his family, and mirrors the collapse of his society. Anne Spudvilas' illustrations are spellbinding, full of shadows and menace, amplifying the unnerving and paranoid atmosphere.

The book deserves the awards it has won (and will no doubt win). However, the book is challenging, and I do wonder who the intended readers are. Younger children are not cognitively developed enough to understand the many metaphors and resonances essential to grappling with the text. By the time older children have matured enough to understand the text, they generally reject picture books.

To test the theory I ran the book past my three girls. Each reacted quite differently: my six-year-old Dr-Seuss-fan was terrified; my eight-year-old Harry-Potter-freak was bored; and my ten-year-old, who is mid-way through The Lord of the Rings and attempting to translate the Elvish, was badly irritated by the spelling, which she found made it difficult to read physically. In Piagetian terms, the eldest has moved on from concrete to formal logic, but even so, none of my girls was as excited by the book as I was.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Emerson on February 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
WOOLVS strikes me as being a work for a mature reader. It's kind of a picture-book for adults, maybe, which makes it an odd in-between sort of thing (and difficult to market, I suspect) but something powerful and memorable, nonetheless. Both the art and the narration are nicely understated, indirect and ambiguous-- skillfully removing or blurring the boundaries between reality and nightmare. Much is left (rightly) to our imagination- but our hero has an imagination, too. Or does he? The world of the story is a bleak one-- Ben, our orphaned narrator, lives in a deserted post-apocalyptic cityscape, social collapse reflected in the desperate misspellings of his narrative. He obsesses, waking and dreaming, over shadowy predators in the empty streets. He tries to warn his only friend and benefactress, Mrs. Radinski, of the approaching danger. Does she really not believe him? The book, working on a lot of levels and leaving much unexplained, has lured me into repeated readings. Apart from a feeling that the ending is one note off, I find Ben's simple voice more affecting and the pictures more suggestive each time I pick it up.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful picture book for horror fans of any age -- including adults.

The story is apparently about a broken-down society in which food and water have grown scarce, electricity is out, and people are left to fend for themselves. The story is narrated first-person by a teenager named Ben who lives alone in the basement of an apartment building after his family was killed by wolves roaming the city. But these are not ordinary wolves, Ben assures us, leaving me to wonder if he's talking about werewolves. The kindly Mrs. Radinski doesn't believe in any wolves despite Ben's repeated warnings. Then one day she goes missing...

Or maybe there are no wolves. Maybe Ben is a mentally ill teenage runaway whose hallucinations have painted a threatening shadow over the peaceful streets and parks he remembers from his childhood. We can't really tell for sure, because Ben is the only narrator we have, and no matter what's really happening, Ben just isn't all there.

I've read hundreds and hundreds of picture books, but I've never seen one anything like this. The story is told with a genuine sincerity that is made more powerful by the poor spelling, and the dark sketchy illustrations complement the writing perfectly. I'm not sure who the target audience is, but fans of Neil Gaiman's twisted perspective on horror will love this. Buy it for teenagers or adults, or for anyone old enough to appreciate a good psychological horror story.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lily the Librarian on December 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book makes me want to move to Australia because if books like this can win awards there, I think I could be a successful author. Reading this book is like watching a 30 second trailer to a good movie, except there is no movie to see. The author sets up the characters and the scene and then abruptly ends the book. I mean come on, at least show him finding the woman. There is a fine line between ingenuity and just plain stupid and this book just doesn't do it for me.
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