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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* 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