Wolf! Wolf! by John Rocco
John Rocco has taken the old Aesop fable of the mischievous boy who cried wolf and given the story a humorous new twist from the wolf’s point of view.
And this wolf is a very different beast. Rocco’s wolf is an elderly, shaggy old wolf, too stiff and slow to hunt, forced to grow vegetables to make a meal. But even his garden, overgrown with weeds, is getting beyond him. When he hears, with the aid of his ear trumpet, a faint voice calling “Wolf! Wolf!” he hobbles off, hoping the caller has food to share. What he spies is a troublesome goat boy giggling at the breathless villagers he has lured up the mountain to his rescue.
As the wolf soaks his aching old feet in a pond and dreams of a way to get his paws on the boy’s goats without having to chase them, the boy shouts his false warning again and again, until at last the disgruntled villagers begin to ignore his calls.
“Perfect,” says the wolf. “Not a villager in sight! Were you calling me for lunch?” the old wolf grins. “The villagers are only going to believe you if you really are missing a goat. I can help you with that.”
Too tired to chase down a goat, the wolf offers to spare the boy if he will lead one of his fat goats over the mountain and tie it up to the post in the wolf’s garden.
Dreaming of a delicious breakfast, the wolf awakes the next morning to find that the goat has eaten all of the weeds from the garden spot, leaving the juicy, ripe veggies exposed. “I’m a picky eater!” the goat explains apologetically.
The old wolf weighs the obvious choice–a one-time goat entree against a productive garden for the rest of his life–and opts to keep the goat around as his gardening partner–and as a future dining companion!
A former art director for the Shrekmovies, John Rocco makes his picture book debut with Wolf! Wolf!. His deft use of a Chinese setting, with the old wolf decked out in a red silk jacket and a “blue willow” landscape of bamboo, oriental bridges, and cherry blossoms, perfectly sets off the visual humor of his unique style. The final page, with the old wolf and the goat walking away companionably together, is a wry reversal of the carnivorous conclusion to the original fable.